Sometimes, the stories in our heads need a new frame.
Recently, I visited my home town to visit family. It was a week of hard conversations intertwined with impromptu moments of fun. However, truthfully, I was longing to return to my own home. I felt tired, emotionally and physically drained, and always get a bit restless at the end of a trip.
In addition, a snowstorm blew in to town on the day I was leaving. Having travelled the route home multiple times in bad weather, I wasn’t overly anxious. But I wasn’t looking forward to it either. So I packed up my belongings in order to try to get home before dark.
I had just said good-byes and had my car running to keep it warm for my departure. What I didn’t know was that my car automatically locks the doors after a certain time period. When I went to open the door, I realized it was locked. There I stood, in dispelief and frustration, while the snow forcefully pelted my car and my body. Now what?
My only option was to call a keysmith. On a Saturday. In a blizzard.
I made the call, feeling the frustration of my self inflicted actions. And then I waited for what seemed like an eternity. During that time, I conjured up all kinds of thoughts about the person that was coming to my rescue: the imagined reasons for why it was taking so long, the money that was being made because of my error. I created a story in my head that dismissed the context of my situation, created by me. Instead, I focused on the faults of the locksmith.
As I happened to glance out the window, I saw her. Looking into the face of someone reminds us that they are a real human with an actual life story-of which I know nothing about. She apologized for the delay, expressing the hazardous weather as being the reason. And, in the midst of opening the car door, she shared her concern for my trip.
As I drive home, I was convicted of the story in my mind that I had created. That action was worse than locking myself out of my car. It was an affront to another human being who was about to cross my path to help me.
While I am not naive to the fact that humanity often takes advantage of others’ afflictions, I also realize that we are also have a connection to each other that is literally life giving. Her skills and my financial contribution helped each other. Reframing the story changes the way we view our life moments and each other. We see unexpected glimpses of beauty when that happens and a new picture appears.