This morning I had an early appointment in Nashville to being a training. I put the address in my GPS app on my phone and off I went. It took me to the exact spot I’d entered into the phone but there was one problem, it was the wrong address. It took me a moment to realize my mistake until I literally got to the end of a dead-end road. Argh! I felt my frustration starting to grow. Instead of being 30 minutes early I was going to be late. I checked the address again, realized where I made my mistake, and set off in the right direction. Trying not to let my anxiety rise to a harmful level I turned on a three-lane road and stopped at a traffic light. I was in the far right lane, an SUV in the center lane, and a sports car in the left lane. I heard yelling and realized it was the SUV driver and the sports car driver having a road rage episode. I couldn’t make out much of what they were saying and the words I could understand I don’t dare repeat.
I sat there listening and watching the living embodiment of frustration out of control; testosterone, anger, and vitriol spewing out of both of them. It made me take stock of my mood and I realized it wasn’t worth getting upset over my mistake and to let it go. I did, arrived at the training on time and am thankful for the lesson two men out of control could teach me.
Hearing is Believing –
A driver slid off the road during a snowstorm. His cellphone was useless and so he walked until he found a house with an old mule munching on some hay near a barn in the backyard. He knocked on the door of the house and a farmer answered. The man explained his predicament and the farmer said he’d help. The farmer put on a coat, exited the house and walked over to the old mule, put a bridle on it and the three walked back to the car. As they were traveling the driver of the car wondered if the old mule could be of much help. They arrived back at the car and the farmer turned the mule around, attached the rope it carried to the car and to the mule and began yelling; “Go, Joe, go, Fred, go, Jim, go Barney!” The old mule pulled as hard as it could and the car slowly came out of the ditch and back on the road. The driver was amazed and thanked the farmer profusely! Before he drove off he had one question he had to ask the farmer. “Why,’ he inquired, ‘when the mule was pulling the car, did you yell; Go, Joe, go, Fred, go, Jim, go Barney?” “Well,’ replied the old farmer scratching his chin and then petting the mule. ‘Ol’ Barney here doesn’t see too good and I knew if he thought he was pulling by himself he’d never believe he could do it. So, I made him think he was on a team so he’d have the confidence he needed to get the job done.”
Wisdom teaches us that we are never alone. Whatever the situation, it is never so dire that whether we can see it or not, the help we need is there to do what needs to be done.
Improving Upon Silence? –
A couple of weeks ago I tried having a conversation with a man who wouldn’t stop yelling. His rant was about everything and nothing. No matter how I tried I couldn’t get him to listen, to move beyond his tantrum and into a dialogue. When his hour was up I wished him well but wasn’t sure the session did anyone, including myself, any good.
Tonight in our Incarcerated Father’s class I spoke to the participants about moving beyond anger and into a productive exchange with others. The steps are; respect for the other, listen to the other, be open to constructive criticism and have the self-awareness to know or hear what needs to change in your life and respond positively.
As I reflected on the lesson I thought about the man from a few weeks ago, my Facebook feed over the last several months, protest marches, inaugurations, and too many other instances where people are yelling, complaining, talking incessantly and rarely, if ever, shutting up.
Silence is in short supply these days. If someone doesn’t stop yacking and start listening soon things are only going to get worse.