Life may not always be easy, but it is always simple. There seems to be a myriad of choices we can make, but there’s really only three.
- Will we choose to accept things as they currently exist?
- Will we exert enough effort to make them different?
- Or will we make them different by negotiating?
These are the questions I faced as I dropped the letter I’d been reading on the dresser and remembered the first day the letter regarded.
Cheryl expected me to be at her house by 5:00, so we could stop and get a bite to eat before going to the Manheim Steamroller Christmas concert. Traffic crowded the street as the typical commuters headed home at the end of another day working for the man.
Stay yellow, I pleaded as I sped down the left turn lane. Despite my plea, two car lengths still separated me from where I would turn when the light changed to red. Of course there’s no way of knowing what the other drivers thought as they gave me time to finish shrieking around the corner before they entered the intersection. I took my foot off the gas and slowing to a more reasonable speed as I traveled away from the intersection. I glanced around, hoping to see no traffic cops. I didn’t.
That was too close. If I got stopped and ticketed, I’d for sure be late.
Accepting what I can’t control is a source of peace, but the things I can control, I better do my best to control.
It behooves me to control such things as:
- · My Attitude toward myself, my challenges and others.
- · The things I think about.
- · The things I say.
- · Whether I’m late or on time for my appointments.
Cheryl didn’t criticize me for frequently being late, but she’s a high ranking accountant for Boeing and the precision with which she runs her life inspires me to at least try to be the same way. When I efficiently conduct my affairs, I seem sharper than I do when I’m late or sloppy. Being efficient seems like a good definition of the term functional.
I picked the letter up and carried it to a cork bulletin board behind my door where I pin things I want to keep track of. Cheryl’s Attitude to organize things rubbed off on me, helping me save time I used to spend looking for stuff.
The second day the letter referred to was just an ordinary day. I hadn’t been late, or even in a hurry, but when I saw the yellow light and the empty intersection, I figured I’d be a patriotic American and save a bit of gas by not stopping. Only about a car length separated me from the corner when the light turned red. Since the intersection was totally empty, it didn’t make sense to stop.
I viciously stabbed a tack through the mailed ticket, pinning it to the board. Traffic cameras!
In hindsight, the best thing this incident taught me about traffic citations resulting from evidence received via cameras in Auburn, Washington is that they don’t go on your driving record. However they do require payment, but I had a plan. I showed up for traffic court in high spirits. I optimistically shared my web site, depicting the value I am to students and their communities; I also suggested that my doing a presentation or two in public schools would be of more value to the community than my paying the price of the tickets.
The judge agreed, confirming my hopes that having a negotiating Attitude is the best way to find a win-win situation for the parties involved.