Don't Swerve in Front of Me: A Life Lesson in Tolerance

April 12, 2021

I love my car. I could describe the many details of why I love it, but what brings me the most joy is the color. It’s a Kia Soul and it’s bright green with beautiful glitter flecks in the paint. I’d call it granny smith apple green, but the manufacturer’s color is Alien green. This makes me smile. My niece says its booger green and yes, that’s about the same color, too. It is also the green of springtime new growth. I get to admire it any time I park it somewhere pretty which is a priority. I don’t care how far I have to walk if there’s a corner of the parking lot that looks great with it.

The other day I’m tootling along in this beautiful green car, enjoying the sunshine on my face. It’s springtime and everything is in FULL bloom. My eyes are drinking in all the colors and I’m admiring the pretty green of my hood as I stop in traffic. I’m grateful for the quiet inside my car.

As the light turns green and my attention turns back to the task of driving, I begin to feel a rumble in my chest followed by the deep, booming base of car speakers. A split second later the roaring engine and souped-up muffler of tricked out black sports car speeds past and weaves in front of me. This car had every after-market doodad you can imagine, and I could even see that if it were dark, it would have been lit up like a Christmas tree. A dance club on wheels.

Annoying. “You’re a reckless jerk (other colorful words added)!” I shout. I was resentful of the aggression I felt from them, my joy shattered. I heard a voice in my head say, “You know it’s a choice to let them make you angry.” I roll my eyes.

Next stoplight ahead I can see has turned red and I get a slight (ok, I admit, a lot of) satisfaction in seeing that the black sports car hadn’t been able to beat the light. I step on the gas and switch lanes so I can see what this jerk looked like. I’m imagined an angry, testosterone filled young man who was probably a criminal. The image of them sticking a silver-plated pistol out the window and firing it at me flashed in my mind as I rolled up.

What do you think I saw?

I was correct in that it WAS a testosterone filled young man, but he was dancing and singing inside that car as he waited at the light. We made eye contact. His smile broadened and he waved as if to say, “Isn’t it a beautiful day? I LOVE my car!” I did get shot at, with a wink that made me melt like a flirting 21-year-old. The light turned green, and he stepped on the gas, roaring, booming and bouncing off down the road.

I never caught up to him again, but that moment left me with a beautiful reminder of an old lesson: We all experience joy in different ways.

The difference between the two of us seemed extremely different. I can imagine being in the passenger seat of his car. Deafening music rattling my teeth as I get thrown around the vehicle. I dangle from the grab handle and cringe at every tire squeal and engine roar. I don’t think it would matter if he was a good or bad singer. Being in the car with him would be hell.

The truth is, though, we were both out on a beautiful spring day enjoying being in our cars that we love.

Not so different from one another.

How do we learn to be more tolerant? It starts by WANTING to be more tolerant. By looking past how we are different and seeing how we are alike. By choosing to really live vs choosing to hate and seeing only ugliness. By realizing there IS a choice.

Don't Swerve in Front of Me: A Life Lesson in Tolerance

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