Lately I’ve been wondering to what extent we create our own reality by how we perceive it. I guess the universe didn’t think I was catching on fast enough so it sent me a message that was rather hard to ignore.
We were visiting Verona, Italy during one of the biggest heat waves in years. Temperatures were up to 40°C during the day in the blazing sun and not dropping below 30°C at night. The heat was taking its toll on my patience at times. People were often doing things that I perceived as completely rude or just plain stupid – not paying attention to what they were doing and bumping into people, sitting in the wrong seats on a train and causing a commotion, or butting in at the front of a line which for some unfathomable reason they thought they didn’t have to wait in like the rest of us.
One morning midway through our visit we were rushing to catch the Hop On – Hop Off tour bus before it pulled away from the bus stop. I was focussing on the bus and not on where I was walking when I tripped on an uneven cobblestone while crossing three lanes of traffic. I fell down fast and hard on my knees. My husband had to help me up. I assessed the damage as I limped the last few hundred feet to the bus – bloodied and bruised but nothing broken. There was a short line-up of people waiting to get on the bus. We already had our tickets but had to wait for the people in front of us to buy theirs. I thought I was going to faint in the heat and from the shock of the fall, so while my husband waited in line I pushed past to sit down on the bus.
When we were finally settled in our seats, even though I felt like crying because everything hurt, I had an “aha moment” which actually made me smile. I realized how overly critical and judgemental I had been of people lately. My fall was a reality check for me. One day it will be me. Whatever stupid or rude human behaviour I am witnessing, I will be doing that very same thing. At some point in my life I will be every stupid or rude person I have ever met or seen and I will probably be them at their worst. I was that woman who pushes past you to get to the front of the line and you think “How rude, who does she think she is?” I recognized that very look on the face of the tour bus lady as I pushed past her.
So what was the universe’s message to me? Have more compassion for others. When I see someone doing something stupid, just smile knowing that I’ve “been there, done that.” Instead of thinking “Who do they think they are?” choose to accept that for some reason they need to sit down or be at the front of the line. I don’t need to know what that reason is. No one in the tour bus line knew what my reason was.
I realized that having more compassion for others will improve my own reality. Being calm and open minded has to create a more pleasant reality than being agitated by someone else’s seemingly foolish actions or feeling wronged by someone who has pushed in front of me. And now, thanks to the universe, I’m going to have a doozy of a scar on my left knee to act as a reminder that we are all human and that I too will have good reason and ample opportunity to be the one acting stupid or rude in the eyes of others.