One of those powerful moments
I have a certain routine in the morning in those days that I do not travel. I usually get up in the morning, remind myself that this might be the last day of my life (I know it is not exactly the most upbeat thought but certainly good for me since it makes me to pause for a second and remind myself who and what around my life are truly important – as I feverishly brush down my teeth 🙂 ) and then before I go for my run, coffee and quiet time, I usually volunteer to drop one of the girls to school.
The journey to school is not exactly the most conversation-filled trip you will experience. Usually they are half asleep (Niki) or have their ears plugged with some music (Tasha). Regardless, it is good to be just next to them for a few early minutes of the morning. As Tasha has started driving, it has quickly dawned on me that driving them around is a privilege that is soon going to be taken away from me. In my house, therefore, I am almost always the one to volunteer first to ferry the kids around if I am at home.
Every single day when I take one of them to school, there are the familiar scenes on the road – which, no doubt, you experience too. The long queues of cars at the intersections, the impatient parents speeding up and cutting off – they are late for class, I presume and the serene beauty of the early morning – harshly interrupted by the occasional car with high beams on your eyes coming from the other side.
And there is that massive traffic jam in front of one of the schools that we cross on our way. There is no traffic light there but usually there is a local policeman or policewoman who is there to direct traffic. The concentrated rush of people wanting to go in or come out can back up traffic for some time. In any case, my usual habit is to lower my window as I approach that point and wave at the police(wo)man as I drive by (as I said, that one is not our school). I readily get pulled up by my daughters that it is weird to wave at strangers and that anyways it is too cold outside to pull the windows down 🙂
Today, in that dark early morning, as I was passing that gentleman, as usual I waved. Most of the days, they do not notice it – or notice it too late – they are so focused on the oncoming traffic. I am sure those screaming headlights do not make it any easier either. (In my defense, I do have my neon color running shirts on to make it a little easier for them to spot me 🙂 ). But, something different happened today.
Imagine the gentleman in the middle of the road. He has his left arm raised to stop traffic from the other side taking a turn into the school and his right arm was constantly making that “keep moving” gesture to tell us to continue on while frantically looking left and right to make sure that he was aware of all the vehicles coming from all directions. And then for a split second, he saw me waving at me. With his hands completely occupied with his traffic duties, he instinctively bowed as I sped past him.
That was very powerful. He had all the reason to keep focusing on his work. He certainly had no ability to wave back. He obviously did not have much of a time to react. His instincts took over and he simply bowed.
For some reason, I felt unbelievably good. And the rest of the drive to my starting point for running, I kept on trying to understand why was I feeling so good. And I concluded that it was because of his simple gesture to acknowledge my presence. It was like “Hey, I do not know who you are. I do not know if I will ever see you or get to know you ever. But you know what? You are a human being. As am I. Life is beautiful because the paths of strangers cross each other and create opportunities to enrich each other’s lives. Let me enrich yours by acknowledging your presence!!”
The rest of the run, it bothered me that so many times I simply forget that sometimes the best gifts in life can be given without much cost, time or even thought. How often I get lost in my own stuff and forget to acknowledge the presence of all those around me. How often I forget that this might be the last day of my life.
I think I should brush my teeth more often!!