Jim Morrison growled "Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel." Sage advice while driving. However, certain occasions arise when we are tempted to lift one hand from the wheel and extend a particular digit in response to some traffic transgression that has occurred against us. We used to call this gesture the Tampa Bay Turn Signal.
Try this the next time you feel like thrusting that one particular digit at another driver: use all ten. In Eastern traditions to bow to each other as a greeting is very common. This is actually more than just a greeting. The bow, with palms pressed together like a Western prayer, a hands breadth away from the nose, is the 'sacred' in you bowing to the 'sacred' in the other. Call it the sacred or Buddha or Vishnu or God or whatever you would like. Or think of it as recognizing our common humanity in each other. It is hard to stay pissed off at someone you are blessing.
As we discussed in Egoless Driving - Lesson One, there is no reason to allow any more stress into your life than you already have. Let it go by recognizing that you are the same as the other driver. Occasionally, you get distracted too. The act of letting go, forgiving if you like, empowers you to leave it behind. You won't think about it all day. The stess will be gone - evaporated not from the heat but from the coolness of your response.
So next time you're tempted to flip, try bowing. Put your palms together and nod your head slightly. Its as much for you as it is for them. You may want to wait until they pass by. If it turns out, in traffic, you bless someone you know, they'll wonder even more about you.
It has happened to all of us, in a crowded parking lot or maybe a four way stop with two lanes coming from all directions. Somehow, you just didn't see that other car. You both come to a hard stop. With a sheepish look, you mouth the word "Sorry." Or maybe you avoid his glance and drive away as your face burns in embarrassment. Your driving record is clean, a good driver, but you just made a mistake. Everyone does.
When the shoe is on the other foot, however, and we were the one brought up short by the distracted driver, we don't seem to think of it the same way. That guy is a moron. He drives like an idiot; shouldn't even have a license. Now wait a minute. If we can make the occasional mistake, why can't he?
When we react badly to the distracted driver, we are forgetting that we is just like him. There are a few morons out there, of course, but most of us get along just fine. Take your ego out of the situation. The ego loves it when it can feel superior to someone else. When you let the ego run unchecked, you are just hurting yourself. The superior feelings of the ego are short lived, but the stress will be with you all day long. If you get cut off on the way to work in the morning, it'll wreck your whole day. It is wiser to just let it go.
It is far better to live with humility. We are all human. There are good days and bad days, but most of the bad days are an illusion of the ego. Next time someone brings you up short, thank them whether they show any contrition or not. Thank them for reminding you of your own humanity; our shared humanity. They have allowed you an opportunity to practice letting it go. The Buddha says all thoughts of selfish desire, ill-will, hatred and violence are the result of a lack of wisdom - in all spheres of life whether individual, social or political. We could use a lot more "letting it go" in our lives. Maybe you can start a trend. Let some of your serenity rub off on someone, but no trading paint in the H.O.V. lane!