Here’s a link to a TED talk that I found particularly relevant lately.
It’s true. Infants have a fiendishly juvenile sense of humor.
For instance, my newborn son always waits until the precise moment when I have opened the diaper to let loose with his best impersonation of a fire hose. It doesn’t matter if I open the diaper and immediately close it, expecting Old Faithful. Then he just bides his time. He also saves his most prodigious bowel movements for the seconds after he’s freshly changed.
When my son pulls either of these two particular maneuvers, I usually favor him with a special scowl reserved for the occasion. He stares back with that most communicative of infant facial expressions that says, “Look buddy, my arms don’t do what I want. My legs don’t do what I want. Not even my head does what I want it to do. There is exactly one area of my anatomy over which I have a modicum of control and I’ll be darned if I don’t use it for maximum comedic effect.”
I can’t really blame him though. An infant’s entire existence centers around bodily fluids and the like. I’m not sure exactly where to stand in the debate of Nature vs Nurture, but I know that each one of us is, at least in part, the product of our environment. The life lesson that I choose to pull from this experience is to be aware of what’s filling up my environment. It may be coloring my view of the world more than I realize.
Today, on my way to work, a large truck pulled into a left turn in front of me. It wasn’t even particularly close, but to make sure that he understood my virulent disapproval of his vehicular maneuver, I laid on the horn. My erstwhile nemesis immediately laid on his own horn and made no hurries to get out of my lane. In less than fifteen seconds, I was on my way, no worse for the wear.
Something, I’m not sure what, made me think about that incident a little later. I thought about how it makes me feel when somebody honks their horn in my direction when I’ve managed to pull some minor blunder behind the wheel. I get all flushed and frustrated. I crinkle up my face on one side and mutter epithets. For the rest of the drive I’m grouchy and hyper-vigilant of the jerk drivers around me. So I got to thinking about how quick I was to lay on my own horn and I had to ask myself,
“When did I become that guy?”
It’s time for some introspection. The answer to the question, “When should I bother to introspect?” is “Whenever you ask yourself that question.”
I don’t think I’m as patient as I used to be. I know I’m not as patient as I used to be. Not quite as easy going. I can offer all sorts of excuses, but those don’t generally get you anywhere with yourself, or rather, they shouldn’t. So somewhere along the line, for whatever reason, I decided that it was to the benefit of society to subject other drivers to educational blasts from my horn. I’m sure that my subconscious believes that a horn honk from me is as good as a Drivers Ed course and that the target of my aural assault becomes a better driver as a result. These things are probably not true. Probably.
As I said before, with the incident today I was in no imminent peril of death or injury and I was delayed less than fifteen seconds. With a little more patience I could have continued my day with a better attitude and lower blood pressure.
One of my favorite books for learning about the teachings of Jesus Christ is called Preach My Gospel. This book defines patience as: “…the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God’s will and accept His timing.”
I’m pretty sure that God has at no time willed me to direct sermons at vehicular sinners with my horn of righteousness.
I’m also pretty sure that I can work on my level of patience and that it would, in fact, make the world a better place. I’ll start by not being so quick with the horn.