He was smiling. An unassuming middle aged man waiting to cross a busy street with no pedestrian crossing, patiently standing by the side of the road with cars whizzing by.
In such situations my instinct is to be annoyed. Why are there so many people in cars? Can’t they take the public transport or walk? I’d like to cross already! Should I make a run for it or wait until it clears? I have other things to do, and certainly don’t want to spend my precious time standing by the road, inhaling your exhaust fumes. Why don’t they paint a crossing here?
Isn’t it unfair that this man was smiling while I’d be upset in the same situation? After some pondering, I recalled a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh:
So next time you’re stopped at a red light, you might like to sit back and practice the fourth exercise: “Breathing in, I’m aware of my body. Breathing out, I release the tension in my body.” Peace is possible at that moment, and it can be practiced many times a day – in the workplace, while you are driving, while you are cooking, while you are doing the dishes, while you are watering the vegetable garden. It is always possible to practice releasing the tension in yourself.
Perhaps it was a holy road-crosser. Perhaps he was standing there just to remind me that we can influence what we think and can decide how we feel in the situation we find ourselves in.