He assumed the worst

Assuming the best in the face of evidence to the contrary takes practice.  The other day I drove my son and his friends back from the team lunch to their second game of a  soccer tournament at Columbia University in NYC. There was a line to get back on campus because there were no parking spaces left.  We figured that would happen, which is why we all carpooled to lunch and back. The boys needed to collect their gear from various locations where their parents had parked on the campus and get to their next game.  I charmed the guard into letting me drive on campus to do just that, promising I would return and park on the street immediately after I dropped them off.  In the meantime, some father came up to my window all out of breath as I dropped them off. He began to berate me for hijacking a parking spot from people who had waited patiently on a line. He had clearly assumed the worst.  I looked at him from inside my car.  He looked like he was going to have a heart attack – either from chasing me around the campus in sub-zero weather or unnecessary, self-induced high blood pressure from self-righteous anger.  It all seemed so unnecessary. I asked him why he thought I was planning to park.  assuming the worstHe responded, “Well, I just assumed.”  He did what most of us would do.  He assumed the worst.  When he learned that I had no intention of parking, shame prevented him from apologizing.  He just walked away in a huff.

I’m never happy about being in one of these exchanges because I know that nothing exists without a cause.  Before I got on my high horse and ride around town feeling better than him, I had to stop to figure out when I had jumped all over someone this way either in thought or in speaking .  He was a mirror.  Knowing that I didn’t want to go too many rounds on this vicious circle, I decided to assume the best giving him the benefit of the doubt. I sent him a silent blessing and moved on.  I am grateful for the opportunity to see how our perspective skews our vision.  I intend to catch myself before I do this to people knowing that like everything else in life, this process of self-improvement will unfold for me with two steps forward and on backward, then two steps forward and…