I came home from work late last night and parked myself on the couch with Ron to watch the last inning of the ballgame. Of course my 50-pound collie mix — who frequently operates under the mistaken assumption that he is a lap dog — insisted on joining me. After all, I’d been gone for 12 whole hours. That could mean only one thing: Time to attach himself to me like a barnacle.
I had a good but long and very busy day at work today. I was pretty tired by the time I got off this evening, but my flagging energy took a turn for the better when a flock of Canada geese, flying low and in formation, passed over my car not once but twice as I made my way down 81st Street. They were absolutely beautiful.
I witnessed a different sort of bird on the way down Riverside. Some guy in a pickup truck came roaring up behind me, riding my bumper and flipping me off for no apparent reason. I don’t know why he was so upset, but he was clearly very agitated.
It struck me that this was an example of what Mrs. Eddy refers to as “mental assassins” — people who try to tempt us into expressing hatred and anger and all sorts of other dead-end emotions and thoughts and beliefs.
There was a time when an encounter like that would have upset me so much that I would have completely forgotten about the beauty I’d just witnessed minutes earlier, but I have been working hard to focus on goodness wherever I find it and to protect myself from such distractions, so I was well prepared to deal with the situation.
My first instinct was to pray for this person who was obviously not having a very good afternoon.
As I passed him while making a left turn at a stoplight a few blocks later, he took special pains to contort his face into all sorts of ugly expressions and flip me another bird or two.
I really wanted him to know that A.) if I’d somehow offended or upset him, I was sorry, and B.) I wasn’t about to respond to his aggressive behavior by getting mad or defensive or hateful.
I couldn’t very well stop to explain all that while I was making a left turn in heavy traffic, but the thought came to me that if he could use sign language to express himself behind the wheel, I certainly could, too.
Without hesitation, I smiled at him and held up two fingers — the universal sign for “peace” — as I made my turn.
It wasn’t a fake smile, either. The whole encounter — from the gleeful realization that I’d actually managed to keep my temper in a potentially annoying situation to the realization that this was probably the most hippified response I’ve ever given to anything — cracked me up so much that I laughed all the way home.
I hope it made him laugh, too. He looked as if he could use a good laugh.