Where I live, there is a 6-lane highway which is heavily travelled and often congested. The speed on this particular highway gets up to 60 mph in some areas, but it is dotted with major intersections so drivers are required to stop on a dime at times. Often, drivers do not stop, but run red lights instead, causing atrocious, fatal collisions. Due to this fact, I am incredibly cautious when I am the lead car at the head of a long line of cars and it comes to entering the intersection once the light turns green.
The other day, I was lead car in the middle lane heading south and stopped at a red light, watching the cross traffic zoom by at high speeds. It was a gorgeously clear day, with the sun shining brightly. However, it was windy, the air sending the trees to swaying this way and that. While I waited at the intersection, I noticed a leaf tumbling across the road. It was an erratic dance of “roll and stop” and it was frenetic enough, that it caught my attention. There were other leaves and such that were whirling and twirling about along the road, but this particular leaf held my attention.
The light turned green and I hesitated my intuited moments before slowly entering the intersection. I continued to watch the leaf. It was still tumbling and twirling across the road. At its pace, it would be in the crosswalk directly in my path by the time I reached the crosswalk and, for some reason, I felt trepidation. I slowly rolled through the intersection, staring at this leaf. Then, the leaf did something unexpected; it changed directions and rolled in the opposite direction, stopped, and rolled in a wide circle and headed back in the original direction.
It was in that moment that I realized that my “leaf” was a mouse. And I was nearly to the crosswalk where the little creature was frantically trying to get out of the way of the vehicular onslaught. Just as my wheels neared the crosswalk, the rodent charged onward, bringing it into direct alignment with my car. Seeing its path crossing with mine, I immediately responded by swerving erratically to the right, attempting to not squish the little, scrambling body.
My decision to swerve caused the driver on the right of me to swerve, as well, and my daughter cried out, “Mom! What’s happening?! Why are you swerving???!”
I burst out laughing as I realized the absurdity of the situation. I had put myself, my daughter, and all the drivers and passengers in the cars surrounding us in danger. All for a teeny mouse. As the adrenaline of the situation coursed through me, it increased my laughter. When I explained to my daughter what was happening, she laughed too.
In that moment, all I knew was I didn’t want to kill that little mouse. I wasn’t focused on the fact that I was putting everyone in danger by trying to not kill the mouse. I had been so focused on that mouse’s struggle, that I had stopped paying attention to my own process.
I’ve thought about this experience a lot since it happened. Often times, I have thought about how that mouse must have been feeling and I’ve thought about my reaction to the experience. In my earlier years, I lived my life focused on the “mouse” in every situation, completely disregarding my own experience. As an Empath, it can be really easy to get wrapped up in “everyone else” and their sensations. Learning that about myself has been a powerful shift because I am able to now be aware of myself first and then everyone else.
My first instinct was to not kill the mouse. In looking at that, I can appreciate myself for valuing even the life of a rodent. I do appreciate that my tender heart cared about the wellbeing of the mouse. I also appreciate myself for immediately correcting myself, getting back into my own lane – in my own body – and then laughing at the absurdity of the situation.
Every moment is an opportunity to choose to check in to see if you need to correct your course. In that moment, I did need to correct my course so that no human got hurt. Hopefully no mouse did either.
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