When the light turned green, the driver in front of me turned on their left turn signal. I waited for them to pull forward into the intersection so that I could get around them and continue straight while they waited for an opening to turn.
But they didn’t. They didn’t move forward at all, and I could see a long line of cars coming in the opposite direction. I would miss this light. I started feeling frustrated and judgmental, and critical of all drivers who don’t do this simple thing (pull forward into the intersection) so that other drivers are not stuck behind them.
I was heading into a righteous rant in my head when I caught myself. Is it worth it? Is it worth losing my peace of mind, my joy in the spring sunshine, my equanimity, my anticipation of a fun evening with kids and grandkids? Is it worth disrupting my sacred connection to the divine, my oneness with all creation, my open heart of compassion and love? Is it worth losing all that I most dearly value in order to feed my indignation over being delayed maybe three minutes by a driver trying to do their best to get to their destination safely?
Well, when you put it that way….
And yet, how often do I make that trade, giving up my blessed state of grace for some momentary grievance? How often do I let my thoughts get hooked in mental narratives filled with fear, judgment, complaint, anxiety, resentment, frustration?
When I caught myself doing this as I waited behind the driver at the green light, the answer to my question of whether it was worth it became clear. No, it wasn’t worth it. Not even close. I took a deep breath, released all my irritation, and blessed the driver with compassion and good wishes for safe travel. I took advantage of the few minutes of delay to enjoy gratitude instead of grievance.
Since that incident, the question “Is it worth it?” pops up quickly when I am poised to trade the peace in my heart for the ramblings of unhelpful thoughts in my mind. Perhaps there is something that would be worth that trade. But so far, I haven’t found it.
When love arrives, thought dies in its shadow. ~Rumi