As I was waiting, something large and silver loomed in my peripheral vision – if I’d been in water, I would’ve thought it was a great white shark. The huge, silver thing kept coming. I turned and it resolved into a car coming fast. It missed my rearview mirror by two or three inches.
The woman behind the wheel glared at me and slammed the palm of one hand on the steering wheel. She was less threatening than a great white, but not by much. As she passed, she turned her head to complete the dirty look she was giving me. The car that had been pulling out had to stop halfway and wait for shark-woman to roar past and into the empty parking space.
The car pulling out was then able to get out (lucky them) and I was about to pull in to that spot when I had to brake and wait for shark-woman to stomp in front my car on her way to the library. She had to go out of her way to get in front of my car, but I guess it was worth it because it gave her another opportunity to glare at me and continue gesturing in my direction.
I had the AC on and the windows up, so I missed her words, but her meaning was quite clear: I was a thoughtless, stupid idiot who violated her space by pausing my car in the middle of the parking lot. I had caused her considerable inconvenience. I was in the wrong and I had wronged her.
When I parked and headed into the library, I saw shark-woman about 40 feet ahead of me. I got into the library all of two minutes after she did. Just imagine if she had waited for the other car to pull out and for me to park –she would’ve lost all of four or five minutes!
I could have understood her rush if she was on her way into an emergency room or a job interview or even a movie theater. I thought “She couldn’t wait two minutes?” Then I answered myself with the snide observation, “That would have deprived her of the opportunity to vent her spleen and have someone to blame. She’d also lose the opportunity to flood her brain and her body with adrenaline and cortisol, impair her memory and other cognitive functions, and damage her own immune system.”
I’ll admit I was getting ticked off myself – it’s hard to be the object of such accusatory energy and dirty looks and not react. I tried to be enlightened about it. I repeated a line from my meditation practice: “May she be filled with love… joy… and serenity… May she be filled with love… joy… and serenity… Bitch!” I said I tried to be enlightened.
A day later, I had to brake hard because the car in front of me stopped unexpectedly because the car in front of him stopped to turn left. I couldn’t get around because of a parked car, but the guy in front of me could. And if he moved, I wouldn’t be trapped. I slapped my hand against the steering wheel and yelled “Go around him!” (Funny isn’t it that when we’re in a car, we’ll yell stuff that we’d never say to someone’s face?) I was thinking what an idiot this guy was when it hit me: I was shark-woman, too!
So I repeated the meditation “May I be filled with love, joy and serenity. May I be filled with love, joy and serenity. (I’m a) Bitch!”
We’re all shark-woman (or shark-man) at times. We’re all rushing too much, trying to do too much and trying to keep up with too much input and too many demands and expectations. We all need to slow down and take a breath. We need patience with others and with ourselves.
Writing requires patience. Oh sure, you have to have verbal intelligence, agility with words, insight, talent, all of that. But all the intelligence, talent and skill in the world isn’t going to get you through the challenges of writing if you don’t have the patience to keep showing up even when you’re resistant and the patience to endure the abundance of disinterest and rejection that is only occasionally balanced by acceptance, recognition and publication.
In If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland wrote: “So you see the imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering. These people who are always briskly doing something and as busy as waltzing mice, they have little, sharp, staccato ideas, such as ‘I see where I can make an annual cut of $3.47 in my meat budget.’ But they have no slow, big ideas. And the fewer consoling, noble, shining, free, jovial, magnanimous ideas that come, the more nervously and desperately they rush and run from office to office and up and downstairs, thinking by action at last to make life have some warmth and meaning.”
Brenda Ueland wrote that in 1938. What would she say about us now?
Let’s all take a deep breath and learn to practice patience. Let’s stop rushing and by inaction, may we all find warmth and meaning. God knows we need it.