Thursday, June 26, 2008
What Would Mr. Rogers Do?
Yesterday as I was driving around My Town I was thinking about how often people "behave badly," whether it be the driver who cuts you off in traffic, the rude cashier at Target, the waitress who is less-than-attentive, the receptionist who snaps at you..etc..etc..etc..the list goes on & on. Once upon a time these things would frustrate me, annoy me, sometimes even incite anger. Usually I let it go but now & then, when the stresses of life got me down and I was on my last nerve, I would respond in kind - snap, complain, or at the very least an ugly look directed at the idiot driver.
Now, though, I am trying a different approach, one inspired by Ivy over at Home Ec 101. It's called the Mr. Rogers and it consists of plain & simple kindness. What a novel idea, right? From now on I'm going to try my best to live each day thinking, "What would Mr. Rogers do?" Silly, maybe, but can you think of a better example of plain old fashioned kindness? I was a huge fan of his as a child and still today when I think of him my heart warms just a bit, my voice softens, my smile widens..he truly was the epitome of gentleman, a gracious & loving soul, a perfect role model for how to be a better, nicer, more loving person.
What if instead of honking at the driver, for example, I was simply kind. What if I took a deep breath and just gave her a break. Because, you know, if might be that she's not driving like a jerk on purpose. Maybe that cell phone call she's taking isn't unnecessary after all, maybe instead of chatting with her girlfriend as I imagine she's actually on the phone with her mother's oncologist, talking about her upcoming cancer treatment. Maybe she took off of work that day, drove a few extra miles to a French bakery to buy her mother's favorite cheese croissant, stopped by the green market and filled a bag of fresh peaches which her mother adores, then she drove to her parent's house and spread out the goodies, hoping to entice her to eat. Because she's lost too much weight, she is not strong enough to undergo the chemo which starts next week, and the daughter is feeling so helpless and the least she can do is what she's good at: nurture with food. Maybe she spent the morning there, chatting and trying to appear "normal" while dispensing medications and discussing an afternoon of testing. Maybe she sat there on the chair in the family room, flipping through a book about cancer diet, scheduling Reiki sessions to coincide with chemo, planning a wig shopping excursion and trying to make that sound like fun. Maybe then the daughter watched her mother, who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, rise from the couch and slowly make her way outside so that she could smoke a cigarette.
Maybe, at that point, the daughter choked up, kissed her mother goodbye and got back on the road. Maybe she drove with tears in her eyes, heartbroken and terrified, and she just wasn't paying attention at the very moment when she cut you off...she didn't mean to, truly. She was just distracted by something so much bigger, so much more important. She's sorry, really she is. So how about when she turns around and waves her apology, you don't shout and flip her off..how about you smile and simply try a little kindness. I'm just saying. It's what Mr. Rogers would do.