Graciousness As A State Of Being
Yesterday I got in a car accident. This wasn't my first one but it was the first time that it was my fault. I rear-ended someone. I made a mistake.
Two months ago, I was rear-ended by someone. She'd made a mistake. She was kind enough to pull over, we both got out of our cars, both of us were walking okay. As soon as we surveyed the minimal damage to both vehicles and ourselves, she said, "I'm so sorry, I think I just fell asleep there for a second," which was not on the short list of things that I expected to hear out of someone's mouth when about to negotiate the ins and outs of a car kerscuffle.
Taking a look at my back bumper, there was really nothing to see that I hadn't done on my own already. I told her that we're fine, I won't claim anything, she texted me her info just in case and we went on our two separate paths. One woman to the suburbs; another to sleep behind the wheel.
I found the incident amusing more than anything else; as someone who still finds the culture of Sin City really unique and hilarious, I drove away musing that people rear-end people and then tell them they were sleeping behind the wheel. I wondered if there was a blog post in it, but I couldn't find a chunk of meat to sink my teeth into. I wondered if it was worth a clever-bordering-on-snide Facebook update, but that wasn't feeling authentic to me. So it was simply filed away as a funny story to think about or tell over drinks when people complained about Las Vegas traffic.
Back to the scene of my car-clad transgressions yesterday. I rear ended someone in a very nice car, thankfully at a very low speed. She pulled to a side street, I followed. I pulled up my parking break and ran over to her and immediately asked if she was okay. She was a bit older than me, well-dressed with distinguished Middle Eastern or Mediterranean features; that beautiful olive skin, big brown eyes, an erudite nose. I didn't know whether or not to assess her elegance as a threat or not, but I did know that the most important thing whether I was about to be taken to the cleaners or not was whether we were going home to our families in one piece.
She was fine; so was I, but a panic started to set in for me. It had been a very difficult week at work, one that required strategy and mindset adjustments and finding out who I was in the midst of uncertainty and change. I was tired. I'd never done something like this before and what if I had to go home and tell my husband that our insurance premium just went up because I was being careless?
I would like to think that the handling of the sleeping driving woman had some kind of cosmic force in creating this other woman's reaction. We stood looking at our cars, they were fine, I think she saw that I was really sad about what had happened, and what I had done a few months ago was now being done unto me. No information exchanged, the woman was incredibly gracious and left me with a reminder to drive safe; it's crazy out there.
I got back to the office just in time for a team meeting where air was cleared and the major changes of the week were addressed. The air was cleared and I felt better about everything. During our questions and comments, I commented that I had just been in and accident and would like to go home before Friday traffic started doing its thing. Our CEO demonstrated grace, just as the woman an hour before had, and he told me to go home.
My point of this is that there is a certain way of being that allows people to experience kindness and ease. That woman would have had every right to report our accident and my boss would have every right to keep me in the office until 5 pm. But they didn't, they showed the qualities of kindness and were able to look at the big picture and keep priorities in perspective. When we practice kindness, and when we have a clear idea of what our priorities are, we have the power to spread a positive energy to other people, generate gratitude and have people think of us kindly.
What beautiful acts of grace have you been blessed with lately? What acts of grace have you been involved with? Leave your answers in the comments below, then share this post with your friends.