A Lesson In Humility

A Lesson In Humility

The movement of time and the events of life can be such a powerful force. There are times we understand what is taking place, and then others where we do not. There are even those moments that confuse us to the point of frustration, only producing clarity and peace with the march of time.

Today would prove to be one of those confusing, yet clarifying days that leaves one humbled. As I was returning from a meeting for work, I found myself caught up in a line of traffic. It didn’t take long for me to start grumbling and complaining to myself. I had to travel to another state. I wanted to see my family. I needed to be somewhere else.

Turns out, I needed to be…right here. Nowhere else, in this particular moment, would have taught me the lesson before me. I strained to look around the line of cars. I could vaguely see the aftermath of a wreck. I proceeded to jump out of line and turn around. I had no idea where I was. I found a side road and followed it choosing my direction the best way I could.

As I turned the last corner, I realized that now I was back to where I started. The only difference would be that I was now approaching the wreck from a different angle and much closer. I put the car in parked and then engaged in an onslaught of verbal complaining second to none. I was angry.

As I sat there, I happened to look down at my camera. I slowly reached for it and started taking pictures of things inside the car. Therapy through the lens so to speak. It didn’t help. I was still angry. As I looked at the clock, I realized that my arrival time home was now significantly impacted. What good could possible come from this?

Then, it happened. I glanced up to see something that simply stopped every complaint from coming forth. She was distraught, visibly shaken as her vehicle lay on it’s side. Shattered glass spread across the cold pavement with no care for person or place. She didn’t know what to do. Her facial expression expressed what she was feeling within. I could see sheer terror, confusion and the deepest sadness I have been witness to for quite some time. I continued to stare, paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of the accident that had transpired. It was a violent collision, the type that changes your life and makes you scared to drive through similar intersections from that day forward. I continued to let my mind roam to the other driver. Were they hurt? Mad? Alive?

It was almost instinctive regarding the next few seconds. I can remember slowly raising my camera to my face. I could tell by his movement that this was going to be one of those moments in time that stops the chaos. That brings healing. I peered through the viewfinder and can remember that exact moment I pressed the shutter release. It was a moment of grace and mercy. A moment of compassion. A gesture that impacted not only those directly involved, but also those that were spectators. As he wrapped his mighty arms around her, you could see her body stop shaking. Her eyes filled with tears, and though I could not see his, I suspect his did as well. It was as if that one embrace enabled her to do the one thing that was a struggle…the one thing she was fighting to do…breathe. To inhale. To feel her heart start beating once again.

That moment enabled me to do something that I had been fighting to do as well. To live with no complaints. To embrace each day. To be thankful for the minutes you have and to stop complaining about what you think you need.

Turns out the camera proved to be the best therapeutic tool for that day…for that moment. Now when days are dark, I often pull out this image as a reminder. I glance slowly and realize that life is precious.

Live boldly. Hug those you love. Be humble. Let your voice be heard.

Tony Patterson

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