Walking the dog, I listen to the birds and the wind in the trees. I love the quiet alone time and allowing my mind to wander. Often, I mull over things I've read or stories that friends have told me and I notice the compassion or its absence. The story I'm sharing with you below touched me and it kept resurfacing in my mind. Its author shared it, in a local social media group to which I belong, more than a year ago.
It poignantly illustrates for me how acting from compassion is a satisfying, and not always easy, thing to do. Anonymously escaping into the darkness was an option, but compassion took hold. Or was it a sense of responsibility?
To me, the two go hand in hand. If we all choose to act responsibly and with compassion to all those around us, every time an opportunity presents itself, we will inevitably change our world. Please consider joining our challenges in the 23 Days of Compassion leading up to Golden Rule Day!
- Lynn de Vree
"Like many, I ride my bicycle to and from work each day, often in the dark and rain. Earlier tonight, after buying some groceries (my daughter asked for cheeseburgers) and loading up my saddle bag, my evening commute was momentarily interrupted.
While riding down the hill leading away from town, a vehicle coming up the hill took a left-handed turn directly in front of me. My eyes widened as the side panel of the car came to block my path. Having already dropped my saddle for the descent, I quickly shifted my weight to the rear, I went into a full emergency break (something I had practiced, but never needed). The wet road and added weight from the groceries clearly didn't understand the urgency of the situation as they fought against me. Still, the driver of the car simultaneously realized their miscalculation and sped their slipping tires out of my way.
But this isn't a story about my near miss and the moment I thought my daughter might not get her cheeseburger for dinner. It's not a reminder that despite all my lights, bright helmet, and retroreflective gear, I'm still no match for a vehicle. I'm writing this to share with the community what exactly happened next. While catching my breath on the side of the road and running the incident back in the slow motion of my adrenaline-soaked mind, a young man stepped up to my bike's headlight and said, 'Hey, that was my fault.' Taken back, and still fighting the adrenaline, he clarified, 'I'm the one who almost just hit you. I lost you in the car's headlights and I'm sorry.' Apparently, after initially getting out there, he turned his car around and came back. It took me a moment to register all of this. I thanked him for coming back to check on me and acknowledged it must have been scary for both of us. He agreed and apologized again.
This is the story. This young man showed his mettle today. He didn't hide or slink away in fear. He didn't look away or avoid eye contact. No one would have known if he just kept going into the night. Nope, not this young man.
Now again, I do not know this young man but for these few very intense moments earlier today, but I walked away with my fear having been replaced by hope and even a touch of renewed pride in our community."