April 25, 2014

Non-Judgment: Why Don’t We Do It On The Road? ~ Kathryn E. Livingston

traffic cars


Like an exemplary yogini, I try not to judge others.

But when I’m driving I often curse like a sailor. “You asspipe!” I find myself yelling words I would never utter in my non-driving, yogic life.

I judge people who don’t signal, who pass on the right, and who tailgate. I judge those who speed and those who go too slow. I judge those who text while driving and those who swerve from their lane. I judge those who don’t pay attention when the light turns green and those who run stop signs.

Recently, my best friend told me that she does this, too. She judges people behind the wheel in ways that she never would off the road. But she’s come up with a solution. Whenever she sees someone doing something stupid on the road, she now replaces her natural, unsavory expletive with the words, “Child of the Universe.”

As an idiot rounds a bend on the wrong side of the road she intones, “Child of the Universe.” As a jerk cuts her off: “Child of the Universe.” As a moron double parks: “Child of the Universe.” We are all, she explains, children of God, no matter how badly we drive.

Another friend who is a psychologist once commented to me that when we get angry with another driver and curse and yell, it says more about us than that “bad” driver.

Who knows what’s going on in that person’s day? Maybe he just had a fight with his wife. Maybe he just had a colonoscopy (well, if so he really shouldn’t be driving). Maybe he’s just found out his mother died. Who knows?

The fact that we react to a bad driver really means that we’re not tuned into our own balance. Bad drivers come and go, but can we maintain our equanimity, just as we do in Tree pose on the yoga mat?

I envision a world in which we are all spiritual drivers.

We yield to the other without being asked. We do not honk unnecessarily. We pass only on the left, and we do not speed. We come to a full stop at stop signs. We pull over to help disabled vehicles without fear that we will be shot or molested. We let others park while we patiently wait. In fact, we give others the very parking spot we were hoping to nab.

We are kind, compassionate, considerate, humble yet confident. We don’t swear or call people ass pipes, idiots or morons. We are metta drivers, emanating loving kindness to all on the road, even to teenagers jutting in and out of lanes like kamikaze nincompoops.

My friend has noticed that “Child of the Universe” is coming out of her mouth at an alarming rate. But isn’t that better than the alternatives? Judging others and ourselves comes effortlessly (“I’m too fat,” “She’s too thin,” “OMG, he’s eating sausage!”) It’s the non-judging that takes effort.

If we can we forgive, let go, accept, and even love all the bad drivers in our lives, who knows how far our forgiveness, acceptance and love will go?

Non-judgment is a life-long practice. But for starters, why don’t we do it on the road?


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Apprentice Editor: Pamela Mooman / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: zoundy at Flickr 

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