After a week that started with freezing snow and has remained downright chilly, it was nice to get my walk in today after school with some nice warm sunshine. I had a lot on my mind and a long list of things to do when I got home, so I picked up the pace and enjoyed my time outside.
I was walking on a side road when it happened. A car came up quickly behind me and abruptly honked loudly when it was just next to me. It startled me and I stepped further to the side into the grass along the road. I caught a glimpse of the male driver and saw the woman in the passenger seat twist all the way around to stare at me as they drove on and turned the corner. There was a child in the back seat.
Why did they honk at me like that?
Were they trying to scare me? Were they angry that there was a walker along the road and they had to move over a little? Why did the woman turn around and stare? Was this an aggressive driver who wanted to make some kind of point? It felt like a threat.
Or was this a neighborhood family that I knew from school? Were they honking with a friendly hello or to tease me as I walked–and the woman was turning around to see if I recognized who it was in the car?
Perception is everything. I don’t know which scenario was true. But I was apprehensive the rest of the way home. I worried that the car could go around the block and return to harass me again. No matter how much I tried to convince myself that it was just my perception that this was a scary encounter and I had no proof–I assumed the worst.
Part of this shift in my perceptions is because it seems that there are emboldened and angry people everywhere. I tend to expect the worst from people because I am seeing very ugly behavior both close to home and across our country brought to the forefront. I am more cautious when I’m in public, and I find myself not trusting people the way I used to.
This isn’t who I want to be. I want to intentionally shift my perspective back to a more positive outlook on those I encounter. I have no problem finding the best in children–seeing what is in their hearts instead of reacting to their occasional negative choices or outbursts. I make a point of showing them that they can trust me to be kind and that I see the same kindness in them. How can I do the same with adults? With strangers? How can I regain my trusting stance towards people?
The only answers I have are to continue to surround myself and draw strength from my faith as well as kind, loving people in my life. I count my online blogging and tweeting friends among that circle as well, because we all share these thoughts and emotions through our writing. Your words all echo across the Internet to each other. It matters a lot that we do that because we lift each other up. And it just helps to know that there are kind-hearted people struggling with the same issues and questions across the world. I’m grateful, and I will continue to find inspiration and reflect kindness as best I can.
Why did they honk? To share a smile or to scare me? I probably will never know. But no matter the reason, the choice on what happens after the encounter is up to me. How do I respond to what happened, even if it is just within my own head and heart?
Big questions tonight. No easy answers. How would you respond?
Tomorrow’s walk…I’m gonna wear my “Nevertheless She Persisted” t-shirt and remember exactly what it stands for.