Attitude is a Choice. Patience is a Virtue.
I am not always a positive person and have never claimed to have a great deal of patience. In fact, I struggle with defaulting to a negative assumption as much as anyone might. I rationalize this shortcoming by proclaiming I am aware of it. Whether that offsets the issue entirely or not at all, I am not capable of ascertaining.
Recently I had a moment in the Boston airport that made me realize just how great making the decision to walk away from a bad attitude can be. This is my account in the hopes my experience makes a little space in your heart so you might be inspired and experience what comes from seeing the beauty in people instead of problems.
The Airport Crowd Was Thick
The setting was common to a few hundred other weary passengers all seeming to struggle for the first in line position to board a plane that had been delayed due to a “maintenance issue”. The crowd grew larger and more dense around me. Being inherently claustrophobic and physically large, I began to sense the heat rising inside me. Small things began to annoy me. Why do you need to squeeze past us all? The flight is delayed. As a tea kettle would proclaim the heat had reached the point of boiling, the baby’s screaming cry erupting somewhere nearby proclaimed patience lost, and the need to find a way to reduce the heat.
Be Calm, There is no Storm
I took a mental inventory of the situation and realized my problem wasn’t what was happening with the airplane, the airport or the people around me. The problem I had was where I was standing. I needed a new perspective. The baby was being carried by a young mother who was attempting to find a place to sit in an area with far too few available seats. I hadn’t even attempted to find a seat and didn’t see that any would be available.
Undeterred, she carried the struggling infant in her search while it screamed and threw a fit. My nerves were exposed and the pain of a headache started to creep in. Another woman standing behind me read my situation when I turned around and stepped to the side so I could squeeze by her and through the crowd towards a more open space further away from our terminal gate.
I immediately began to feel relief as I exited the herd of cattle pawing at the ground waiting for their section to be called to board. The first class passengers were just as detained as the serfs. I laughed a little involuntarily at the ridiculousness of it all. No one would get to where we are going any faster than I will. I decided to just wait to board the airplane until most everyone was already through.
I Found Peace in a Screaming Child
In this context, the screaming of the child became something different to me. Her and her mother were easy to track, so I glanced their way. They’d found a spot to sit down and the child stood in her mother’s lap, holding hands and squalling. Her mother was smiling sweetly and bouncing her gently attempting to distract her from the chaos around her.
I felt for a moment like her mother’s calmness and smile was buckling my knees. This simple act immediately made me reject the frustration I had felt previously. The calming effort allowed me to supplant negativity with patience and understanding. Such a powerful and motivating good nature in the midst of what she must have known would seem so aggravating.
The herd of angry buffalo pent up by a rusty fence were upsetting. With my knees weakened, my heart felt thankful and my mind eased. The man sitting next to the mother and child began to make silly faces and the child immediately began to calm down and smile. I never heard the child make another peep. I guess the universe felt I’d had enough of a reminder not to be an old nasty coot for one afternoon. This moment represents to me an example of how real our choices are in how we react to situations and to each other.
When you are aggravated by what another human being is doing, try to smile and make a silly face. Your patience might help someone you will never meet, and might help save your own sanity as well.