The thoughts came unbidden while I approached your truck on my morning run. I saw the size of the tires and what appeared to be a gun rack (empty) on the cab. I saw the cigarette smoke billowing out the driver’s side window. You slowed but did not use your turn signal as I approached the crosswalk…
“Great,” I thought, “this redneck is going to run me over.”
“Bet there’s an NRA bumper sticker on the back of her truck.”
“What’s that truck get, two miles to the gallon? Drill, baby, drill.”
My run became a jog and then a fast walk as we eyed each other from across the pavement.
And then with a quick flick of her wrist she waved me on. I picked up my pace again and waved my gratitude in return as I jogged across her intended path.
And then, in a cloud of carbon monoxide, she was gone.
Our human brains are hardwired to prejudge. Quickly assessing other people and situations based entirely on sensory cues is, after all, how we determine whether or not a danger is present. But unfortunately, many of us never get past our prejudgement, myself included.
Fortunately, that is where mindfulness and meditation come in. Through practice, I aim to become more attuned to all of my thoughts, for good or ill. That doesn’t mean I can instantly change negative ones. But being more mindful of what I think gives me a chance to become more mindful of how I act.
If I’d had a chance to get to know the woman who let me run, I might still have found us to be very different people. And for all I know, she may well have had her own judgemental thoughts of me as well.
But in her actions, she showed me a small kindness. And that is far more valuable than even a million positive thoughts.