Monday, August 2, 2010

On security

On one of many arduous treks to Presque Isle, Maine, I learned something about reality: It looks different depending on whose seat you're occupying.  We were on our way North on Interstate 95 when it started to rain.  Not just any rain, but the freezing drizzle that all residents of the frozen north come to know intimately over the winter months.  So, we're somewhere between Bangor and Houlton which means we're in the middle of nowhere.  I can sense that Kelly is getting a little tense.  She always gets tense when we're traveling in this kind of weather.

Now, I'm traveling the speed limit.  Honestly.  There are no other cars on the road.  None.  Not on my side going North and none going South, either.  I know that Mrs. O. would like me to slow down, but knowing that makes me defensive.  She hasn't said anything.  Not a word.  She's not gripping the dashboard or biting her fingernails, but I know.  It makes me feel like she doesn't trust me.  If she really trusted me, she would know that I will keep us safe, right?

Then another thought hits me.  She's afraid.  That doesn't sound like an epiphany, but it was. Previously, I was interpreting her fear to mean that she didn't trust me.  That was not my observation, but my conclusion.   I had observed that Mrs. O. was afraid and concluded that she didn't trust me.  That must be the source of her fear.  After all, there was nothing to be afraid of...unless she doesn't trust me.  If I back up and question my conclusion, then we're back to the facts: she's afraid.

I remember as a pre-schooler being afraid of the rattlesnakes that I knew were under the bed at night...only at night of course.  They were never around during the day.  I remember as an adult being afraid and it doesn't much matter of what.  The fear is real every time.  Even when the thing I fear is not real, the fear itself is.  Totally real.  Even when I am aware the the object of my fear is not real.  The fear is still real.

So, I decide to respond by slowing down.  What is 'safe' after all?  It's the speed at which I feel no fear.  Mrs. O. noticed that I was slowing down, and she knew why.  The conversation that followed was one of the best.  I had no idea that doing something so simple would mean so much or communicate so much security.

Note to self...slow down.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, that just brought tears to my eyes. It was so sweet. Good for you for being able to see past your defensiveness and into the reality that you have the ability to comfort and meet her needs by doing something so simple. And for putting her needs above your own desires. Beautiful story. :)