Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Medical Update

I just popped 400mg of Temodar. That’s up from 300mg last month. I’ll do this for the next five days and hopefully not have any bad effects from the dosage increase.

Personal Update

I had an experience today that I want to write about. It’s probably better suited for a personal diary but I don’t keep one. Probably not even worth writing down, but whatever.

I was riding my bicycle home from an appointment with my oncologist. It was sunny but in the mid 30’s. The appointment went well. I was feeling good — enjoying the day. I was coasting downhill, getting ready to turn left onto an uphill side street. To take advantage of momentum, I made a wide sweeping turn which put me a smidge into the oncoming lane of the side street.

I’ve been riding a motorcycle daily in Atlanta for ten years. This means that I have a lot of experience with the dangers of traffic. Being safe and looking everywhere is second nature for me.

I saw the car approaching on the side street and knew that I had plenty of time and room to make this turn.

But the driver still had to make “get out of my lane you stupid idiot” hand gestures at me.

Now, I’ve recently adopted a new outlook — a new way of thinking. I’m positive and upbeat. I try to be understanding and patient. I think good thoughts and put out good vibes.

But at that moment, I just about lost it. I felt the red heat of rage warm my body. I skidded to a stop, turned to face the guy and gave him my best “what’s your problem?” arm gesture. He saw that in his side view mirror and we had a short stare-down, just waiting for each other to make a move. I hoped he would stick his head out of the window and get into it with me. But, he finally pulled away and I continued home.

As I rode, I thought how I hate people in the city. There’s so many mean people. In fact, everyone that I don’t know, I dislike. I daydreamed about the argument we could have had. I relished the guilt he would have felt when he heard my overly dramatized story of being a terminal cancer patient riding a bike in freezing weather because I’m not allowed to drive myself to the doctor and that I needed that momentum to help me make it up the hill. Alternatively I envisioned punching him in the face for being a jerk.

Then I realized that all that negative thinking was ridiculous… and harmful. This is the kind of thing where you just let it go. I don’t hate strangers. I like living in the city. All those emotions I went through are counter to what I have spent months learning through meditation. So why did I care what that guy thought? Why did I get so mad about it? Maybe that’s human nature. Or maybe I need to keep working at how to focus on the important stuff. Maybe lots of us do.

As I crested the hill I began to ponder his side of the story. What could possibly have made him get upset. I was nowhere near causing a collision. Yes, technically I was in his lane for a second but he couldn’t be so obsessed about the Rules of the Road to get that worked up. Maybe it’s some deep-seated problem the poor guy has. Maybe his wife left him for a biker. Maybe he never learned to ride a bike as a kid. Who knows? The point is that he must have had some reason and I’ll never know. Could be he was just having a bad day. Who cares? Let it go.

It made me realize that we can’t all know everyone’s point of view all the time. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Actually, don’t spend any time worrying. Just focus on the things that will make me feel good. So I went back to enjoying the moment at hand, noticing the bright afternoon sun beams dancing with the chilly breeze on my cheeks.

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21 responses to “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

  1. Rusty Phillips says :

    you better be careful…..

    • Ken says :

      Rusty, if you mean careful about riding, you bet I am. Ten years of rush hour motorcycle riding in traffic has shown me plenty of glimpses of death. I’d say I am unconsciously competent at being safe on the roads. But if you meant careful about confrontations with strangers in Atlanta — you are definitely right. There’s some crazy dangerous people round here. Thanks!

  2. Hlee says :

    You are an outstanding writer. This whole blog has been outstanding, Ken. Every time I read something you post, it makes me think and I am reminded of what’s really important in life at the end of the day. Thanks so much.

    • Ken says :

      Thanks Hlee. That’s type of feedback encourages me to share these thoughts. I needed some change but was afraid to make it happen. And then the Universe forced a change on me — in a big way. If I can help remind friends like you and even strangers to keep focused on fulfillment and happiness, then I’ll continue to share these posts.

    • Anonymous says :

      Hlee said what I’ve been thinking every time I read your blog. Today you really helped me remember my mantra. As a teen I called myself Peace Woman and always tried to see the other side/better side of whatever was going on around me. “Imagine” was my anthem and I wanted to see the world through child’s eyes. I let life and choices give me a chip on my shoulder, a monkey on my back, for nearly 18 yrs now. Thank you for sharing — you have no idea.

  3. Jim says :

    Hi Ken,
    Early morning in Denver, Hlee and I were just discussing your post. Great writing and great thoughts… thanks for sharing. Interestingly, I find that I’m now duking it out with Hlee… it appears we were both inclined to comment and we’re now racing to submit. I’m on super slow to use iPad keyboard vs her new Airbook… so I’m toast. In any event, your words of wisdom are much appreciated… keep them coming.
    Jim

    • Ken says :

      Jim, I’d like to write you a nice response, but c’mon — you were three minutes behind Hlee. Maybe you can just read my response to her and pretend it was addressed to you.
      Ha ha. Thanks for the encouragement. See you soon, my friend.

    • Ken says :

      Jim, I know that none of this is surprising to you. It’s how you live, I think. You may call it ambition but it’s also intense focus and desire. You achievements are the proof. Thanks for taking me to the top of Mt. Everest with you. http://www.mounteverest2008.com/

  4. Jim says :

    Kebo, I applaud you for being able to let go of the anger. Anger can tear you up. That being said, I do carry an imaginary machine gun with me. When someone cuts me off, I using the imaginary machine gun to send them to meet their maker. It helps me release the anger.

  5. Carolyn "Carol" Weddington says :

    Perhaps from his depth perception, you were riding recklessly. If he is a local, he may have had similar incidents in the past of bike riders stressing him by risking their own lives cutting that corner short, given the topography. A bike is no match for a car. In truth, you felt the need to stop mid-hill and invite an argument, causing you to lose momentum which negated your initial intention to make it up the grade easier. In that defining moment when you chose to confront him rather than conserve your strength to climb that hill, were you angry at this stranger’s seeming overblown reaction to your road rules violation or angry that you have this tumor and he didn’t? In his mind most likely, he was looking out for your health and safety but your perception didn’t allow you to see it from his point of view.

    • Ken says :

      Great points, Carol. There could be innumerable other points of view for the scenario I described. I’m learning that the choices are mine and I have to make conscious decisions to act differently and create new neuro-pathways so that my instinctual reaction isn’t to get worked up into a tizzy over something like that. I’m making progress. A year ago, I might have yelled at the guy or chased him down. Change takes time. I’m working on it and making progress.

    • Dave F. says :

      Wow, you sound a little harsh in your opinion…he already pointed out in his comment that he realized that he didn’t know the stranger’s reason for being upset and had come to the conclusion that the driver may have had many reasons for his reaction. In my reading, it seems as though Ken has given the car driver a generous benefit of the doubt. I’m sure if you had a family member trying to exercise who faced this same dangerous reaction from a driver, you wouldn’t be so critical of the more vulnerable bike rider. Why did you feel it necessary to be so critical of Ken? Maybe you should mentally put yourself or one of your own family members in his situation and rethink your opinion. Great writing, Ken, I appreciate you sharing your journey with all of us. My thought and prayers are with you.

      • Ken says :

        It’s such an interesting study — one simple, human interaction and everyone could have a different viewpoint. Just today my father-in-law told me that after reading the post, he could relate to my feelings, specifically from incidents that stuck in his memory from decades ago. These are behaviors that go back to the origins of humankind. I may regret bringing gender into the discussion, but I think Carol’s response and comments are unsurprising. I didn’t take offense. I know she’s looking out for my well-being in a nurturing way rather than our brutish man-ways.
        With all the millions of people who interact daily and all the varying cultures and beliefs, the delicate checks and balances of co-existing boggle my mind. Compound all the other complexities of life on there and it gets so overwhelming that it actually blurs into simplicity. That is, life is as simple as it is complex.
        Having been a student and teacher of math at some point in my life, I feel like there is a mathematical representation or explanation of this. I may waste part of tomorrow researching that. I hope I find it, otherwise I could waste a lot more valuable time trying to explain it myself.
        (Jonathan Godbey, if you know the answer, please save me the trouble)

  6. Ken says :

    By the way, the graphic on this post was my comedic way of helping illustrate the scenario. The background street view image is © 2011 Google. The bike and car graphics are Webdings font characters.

  7. Juanita says :

    Phenomenal writing! We all need to adopt this way of thinking in every aspect of our lives. How healthy would we actually become? Mind, body and soul…
    Please continue… I could the brisk morning air and actually smell fresh air! And then the dog farted.
    Oh well,
    Your wheat grass buddy in Ohio!

  8. sharon says :

    Glad you dont keep a diary, I loved this story:)

  9. Dennis Keeney says :

    Good Stuff Ken! YOU are an inspiration man!

  10. Jonathan Godbey says :

    If I knew of a mathematical representation to describe human behavior I would invite you to my fabulous yacht and tell it to you in confidence. It does however lead to two conclusions in my mind. The first is related to macroeconomics and the second is spiritual.

    First, the world is chaotic. Since it is chaotic, no tractable mathematical representation of the economy is possible. With no model, central planning is inefficient at best. For example, government intervention in the housing market is useless because it will have unintended and unpredictable consequences. Instead of central planning, there should be clear rules which provide a fair playing field and let things happen as they will. In the end free markets are the best.

    Second, we are all inherently bad. I’ve been the biker and driver in your story. I used to get really ticked at truckers driving 54 mph in the left lane on I-81 while making my 10 hour drive to Bama and back. After a cell phone conversation with a trucker friend who was going through a divorce I realized other people may be going through tough things and that I should turn the other cheek. Since we all have this nature and that we can’t control it on our own leads me to the conclusion that we need our Creator to save us.

    So Ken, your experience demonstrates why I am a free market economist, a follower of Jesus and a failed hedge fund manager. And the answer is 37 (always choose a prime number.)

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