Your exit is up ahead. The car in front of you is moving just a little too slowly. No problem—there’s plenty of time to pass…
You do everything correctly—blinker, check mirrors, check blind spot, switch lanes, and accelerate—but then the inexplicable happens: the driver of the other car takes note of you and begins to accelerate. Somehow it’s become something of a race, and if you stay in it you’re going to miss your exit.
No problem: If the driver wants to go that fast, you can just drop back in behind him. Blinker, mirrors, blind spot, break, switch lanes…
And naturally, the driver slows down again resuming his previous course.
What about your attempt to pass drew the other driver to block you?
And how were you affected by the incident? Were you annoyed? Aggravated?
How many times per day do we find ourselves in similar interactions, whether anonymously as above or with people we know, losing our mental balance, allowing ourselves to be led away consciously or unconsciously by only our own thoughts?
When someone weaves through traffic and speeds by, do you immediately think “asshole!”? How long do you hold that thought as you move through your day? How does it affect your interaction with the next person you meet?
Did it occur to you that perhaps the person was rushing someone to the hospital or had some other reason for speeding by? How might your day have gone differently if you’d considered that instead?
Whether you think the worst or you think the best of the situation, though, there is still an error: You’ve lost your center to consider either!
“Center!” “Keep your center!” “Don’t lose your center!” And there’s also the converse: “Lead you’re opponent’s ki / energy / attack! Guide him to an off-balanced position, then throw effortlessly!”
In years and years of aikido training, both are practiced. “Leading ki” has the feeling of racing by someone with the intent to cause him to speed up too. “Keeping your center,” conversely, has as an aspect not allowing yourself to be led.
But after those years and years, still I find myself aggravated in traffic! The difference is that now I catch myself there.
Mindful awareness takes practice…