The picture below spent a good portion of yesterday on the front page of Reddit beneath the title “The brilliant philosophy of a 1st grader.”
And with good reason. It’s awesome. And 100% true.
If you do click over and happen to venture into the comment thread, wade carefully. First, you’ll notice the rather…ironic…user name of the person who submitted it. You’ll also notice the in-depth analysis about why it might be a “forgery” – i.e., drawn by an adult but made to look like a kid’s drawing.
To all of this I say: who cares.
The sentiment is dead on, and it’s one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, even if not in those specific words.
I thought about an iteration of this idea twice while driving yesterday actually.
The first time occurred as I was leaving my office. I ended up behind a car going painfully slow, which was coming to near-complete stops at every opening in the median as its driver ostensibly tried to ensure it was making the correct left turn. I couldn’t pass him because traffic was heavy in the right-hand lane.
My initial response was to get frustrated and bellow the predictable, “Come on man! What’s going on?”
But then I caught myself. What was I really frustrated about?
So this guy (or girl) is a bit confused about where he is, and this 15-20 second delay might make me miss the green light I could see up ahead. Who cares? Am I in that much of a hurry to get home that this will adversely affect my life?
The answer, of course, was no.
In fact, honking or making a big to-do would have just compounded the problem and distracted Confused Driver from figuring out his turn as quickly possible.
Perhaps appropriately, this song was emanating from my speakers, and at the apex of my brief bout with frustration I happened to pick it up right at the perfect time.
The chorus goes:
Living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
I got peace in my heart
Got peace in soul
Where I’m going, I’m already home
I’m living in the moment
Nice timing Mraz. Simplistic and a bit cheesy? Sure. But also and great message and rather apropos considering the moment.
I appreciated the lesson.
The moment I was living in, even if ever so briefly, was one of anger and frustration. The moment I could have been living in was one of patience and understanding. Why choose the former and embrace negativity when the latter option was so easy to choose and would help out everyone involved?
This isn’t to say that all driving incompetence should be excused, especially if it endangers others; but in this particular situation what was the point of allowing someone else’s momentary confusion to bring any negativity into my own world?
Selflessly, the best decision was to chill out and let the driver figure things out. Selfishly, the best decision was to chill out and protect a positive attitude that had been buoyed by a day of high productivity.
When a decision can be made in which selfless and selfish ideals align, there is absolutely zero justification for making anything but that decision.
So what I’m trying to say is that I basically told myself: the world is pretty and I should be quiet and enjoy it.
Appropriately enough, a similar situation faced me later that night.
While driving my brother-from-another-mother Bryce home last night, we got behind a truck that was driving similarly to how the car was from earlier in the day.
We were in the left lane, preparing to turn left onto Bryce’s street, and the truck clearly was trying to figure out what turn to choose from. Making the decision even more difficult was the darkness of the night and smallness of the street signs.
Bryce, who just recently began driving (officially anyway), implored me to lay the horn on the guy. I refused. It’s not a reaction I would have normally had anyway, but especially with the context of what had happened earlier in the day, it was easy to release any frustration and, well, just be quiet and enjoy it.
Our turn was maybe a quarter of a mile up the road. The slowness of the vehicle in front of us was causing a 20-30 second delay in our arrival at Bryce’s house.
At worst, it was 20-30 more seconds to hang out and talk about old school Tupac songs or his upcoming Civil War project.
What would honking accomplish? Or angrily swerving into the right lane, speeding past the truck, and then swerving back into the left lane in time to make our turn?
Not only would it have been a terrible example for me to set with an impressionable new driver, it would have distracted and possibly annoyed the truck, with little discernible value resulting from it.
When I saw the drawing above again this morning, I thought immediately of these two stories from yesterday.
Maybe the words of this nameless, faceless child were subliminally impacting my thought process and I didn’t even know it, because I was definitely putting into practice the wonderful philosophy that the world is pretty and everyone should be quiet and enjoy it.
It’s true in the car, at the office, at home, out and about…anywhere.
There is a time and place for everything, and yes even anger and frustration have their place occasionally.
But for the most part, for me anyway, I find life to be a lot more fulfilling when I take pride in protecting my natural optimism and positivity by humbly trying to figure out how I can alleviate a frustrating situation rather than exacerbate it.
If it helps the world stay pretty, and it helps me enjoy it, that’s a decision I want to make every time.