We live on a side street, a “court”, off a relatively busy two-lane road that runs into our town. If I’m heading south to get home, I need to make a left onto our street, and likely will need to wait a bit to make my turn safely. That also means the cars behind me have a choice. They can choose to stop and wait until I make my turn before proceeding (if I remember driver’s ed correctly, that is the legal choice), or they can drive off the side of the road to go around me…and save themselves maybe 10 seconds.
The other day, I watched as both decisions were made behind me. The first car stopped to wait, but the second car proceeded to try to go around us both on the right. The trouble was that I didn’t need to wait long for a chance to make my left turn, which meant that both the car behind me and the car which tried to go around us were suddenly moving forward at the same time in the same lane. They avoided an accident, luckily, but only just. I got to thinking about the value of those 10 seconds.
There is a time and a place to hurry. Believe me, I’m in that place on a regular basis and sometimes it actually matters…but more often than I care to admit it probably doesn’t. Losing those 10 seconds is probably not going to make one iota of difference in the long run. What if instead of rushing through those 10 seconds, I used them to pause? I won’t pretend to be an expert, but I think the idea of pausing for those 10 seconds sounds an awful lot like mindfulness.
Just for fun…try it. Take a few seconds (or minutes if you’re able) and stop multi-tasking. Stop doing all the things you’re trying to juggle at once and choose one thing to focus on during your pause. Maybe for you it’s thinking of something you’re grateful for, maybe it’s observing something in nature, maybe it’s taking some deep breaths. OR…now humor me for a moment…MAYBE…you put a piece of chocolate in your mouth. Perhaps you were wondering where the hock I was going with this, or maybe you saw that coming, but either way you should just do it. I once heard a friend relate a comment from a participant in a mindfulness session as he was eating an almond. It was the same type of almond he always snacked on, but this time he paid attention and remarked excitedly, “This is the best almond I have ever tasted!” Take the time to let the chocolate warm a bit in your fingers, smell it, place it on your tongue, chew it a bit, taste how the flavor changes as it dissolves. I’m not kidding when I say that those 10 seconds may just change your life. (And for goodness sake, drive safely, a 10 second pause can also save your life!)