Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Is It Worth It?

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

14 thoughts on “Is It Worth It?”

    1. Enlightened thoughts. Our ego gets going and makes our point the most important- it tries to squash our spirit and peace. Thanks for this Galen. Yes we humans can practice patience and remember that we are not here singularly but play a part in the tribe and can learn to be at peace !

      1. That’s a great way to say it, Maureen, that “we are not here singularly but play a part in the tribe.” And you are quite right. As soon as I took a breath and sent blessings to the other driver, I felt connected and at peace, rather than separated and irritated. Thanks for adding your enlightened thoughts.

  1. In addition to the unneeded stress levels we take on in such a situation, road rage is an increasingly common occurence. In the past I may have considered a brief tap on the horn. No more.

    1. You offer good advice here, Bob. In the “is it worth it” analysis, we can add the danger to ourselves and others when we risk triggering a road rage incident.

      Your comment did, in addition, remind me of a time years ago when I was again behind someone at a light. This time we were both in the right turn lane where the turn is permitted on a red light. There was no cross traffic, yet the car in front did not proceed to turn. In my impatience, I tapped the horn. Only then did I see that the driver was waiting for a pedestrian in the crosswalk. I have refrained from using my horn ever since, except to prevent an accident.

  2. What good advice, Galen. I know it’s stressful for me just to get behind the wheel of my car, and as my eyesight is beginning to limit when I drive (only in sunny conditions), I too sometimes feel the need to simply let go and let it take as long as it takes to get from here to there. Love your thoughtful posts!

    1. Thanks, DJan. Yes, my driving is more limited these days, and I’ve definitely slowed down a lot. That momentary irritation at the driver was a good reminder to slow down my emotions along with my speed!

  3. Fascinating how we can so easily be transformed into Mr. Edward Hyde! This is why the choices we make must, more often than not, be heart melting and humbling. Yet, those seeming choices may not be choices at all, but powers, circumstances, forces, sheer chance moving upon us. And of course this all begets the question — why would any of us wish or choose to be reduced to silly putty anyway?

    People asked an old man who’d accidentally fallen into a swift moving river how he managed to survive. “I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me. Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it. Plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl. This is how I survived.”

    The moment before he fell he had no idea of the events that would be immediately exacted upon him. Who knows, he may well have been pissed off at his uncle for some earlier event. So falling into this terrifying current he embraced what was, the water. And in doing so, became it (the putty).

    1. That is a great story, Keith, about the man who fell in the river. In a similar vein, a good friend was kayaking in a swift river current. He suddenly and unexpectedly got flipped upside down and stuck under a tree trunk. Just before he was about to drown, he somehow moved with the current and popped up on the other side of the trunk right side up. He describes the process very much like the old man. Amazing.

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