June 5, 2014 in Adventures in Re-Discovering Myself

You know how people post quotes on Facebook? Some are funny, some are thoughtful, and some are inevitably about cats. I skim over most of them, but the other day I came across one that has stayed with me. I can’t even remember how it went, but the gist of it was “Be Kind. You never know what battle someone else is fighting.”

I think about that when one of my fellow parents cuts me off in the school parking lot during the chaos of the morning drop-off. Does she have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement, or has she spent the better part of her morning trying to keep her ADHD kid on task so that he can get to school on time, exhausting her patience for the day by 8:30am?

Is the guy who deliberately steps in front of me in the grocery checkout line being a jackass, or is he trying to finish an errand before he heads off for a visit with his dad, a man with Alzheimer’s who doesn’t always remember his own son?

Is the woman sniping at the young man behind the help counter being a bitch, or is she angry about the fact that her sister has just been diagnosed with lung cancer even though she hasn’t smoked a cigarette in her life?

We all have our battles to fight. Some are new, some are long-standing, some are mild, and some are severe, but they are there. Some days we seem to be winning, some days we need to hide under a blanket on the couch for a temporary reprieve, and some days we lash out in anger at strangers because we can’t lash out anywhere else.

I’ve been thinking about this lately, especially as those my age seem to be battling on multiple warfronts. We have kids with congenital defects, learning disabilities, social difficulties, and tendencies to annoy their siblings for no other reason than because they are there. We are waging war on drugs, alcohol, the inappropriate use of social media, and teenage moodiness. We have aging parents who are slowing down and dear friends suffering through cancer, divorce, the death of a loved one, a mid-life crisis, and long-standing health issues. And we have ourselves, trying to give everything to everyone until we have nothing left to give to anyone.

I’m going to think about this the next time someone around me is behaving like a jerk. Instead of getting angry right back, I hope I can take a moment to calm down and remember to be kind. I might not roll over and let the person walk all over me, but I will send a silent message out into the universe: “I forgive you, because while I don’t know what battle you are fighting today, I know you’ll need your energy to fight it.” And maybe, just maybe, they’ll do the same for me when I’m the one acting like an ass.