A Man With a Gun…How Compassion Changed Things

We sat at a cafe. The sun draped the room like a golden sheet. “I’m shocked you could pronounce quinoa,” I told my blue-jeaned, scraggly bearded friend — I’ll call him John. He chuckled, put down his menu and leaned in to tell me a story.

“I’m trying to be less cranky, and to make some solid changes in my life. I never intend to be a jerk,” he said, “but people  just seem to get in my way wherever I go.”

So he’d begun plucking the weeds from his heart’s garden, making room for beauty to bloom in its place. Of course I’m paraphrasing here, because you wouldn’t recognize this blog if it weren’t sick with imagery and alliteration.

John had recently been at a truck stop. Heading to the buffet counter with plate in hand, he nearly collided with a large tattooed truck driver who was clearly not watching his step. “He scowled at me and mumbled something obscene under his breath,” John said, red flashing on his face. “So I squared my shoulders and told the guy, I don’t have to be an ass here, but neither do you. I grabbed for my gun, just to be sure it was there, in case things escalated.”

But John is an innately smooth man, despite his rough exterior, so he was able to talk the tough guy into a booth. They sat down and chatted then. In between forks full of greasy grub, John learned that the guy was homesick. Having been on the road for some time, he missed his dog and wife (not in that order, I hope). Then, the man said something that shook John with hurricane-like force.“I try not to be a jerk, but people just seem to get in my way wherever I go.”

Yes, you have heard the line before. Scan the page about two paragraphs up and you’ll see it was John who said it first. When he heard that man repeat it, it was like looking in a mirror. “Is this how the world sees me?” he thought.

Everyday, we have the opportunity to look with compassion or judgement, with understanding or outrage, at the world around us.

“What we see depends on what we look for.”

~John Lubbock

My friend’s story reminded me to look within even as I’m looking about. There’s a message that’s waiting for me. I hope to be humble enough to receive it.

 

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