10 October 2007

From the judgment seat

After I posted yesterday's essay, I continued thinking about those drivers whose cars were left running while they transacted business. Noticing such things probably says as much about me as it does about them. Such as? Well, it appears my sense of righteousness, my flair for self-justification, my superiority complex are all, each one, quite well formed.

While I still don't understand leaving a vehicle running unattended and while I cited economic considerations (isn't gasoline expensive enough yet?) at the end of the essay, I realize there is more to this whole phenomenon than a car left running at the curb.

First, this is an isolated example of a larger issue. My brother, Paul, once commented after witnessing a particularly surprising action by another person which caused some confusion, "Well, that was thought-free." That, more than the pure economics of fuel costs versus comfort, is what I noticed. How many of those drivers really thought about what they were doing when they exited the car? Or the passengers who requested that they air conditioning stay on? I'm talking, I think, about being self-aware, about being thoughtful, about considering a larger scene than the one we're starring in at the moment.

Second, I can get all puffed up and privately outraged and innocently confused about cars left running unattended. After all, "I would never do that," insists Miss Virtous herself. But, BUT there does exist a host, a legion of things I do without thinking, a gracious plenty of ideas and positions I've always held that could use a serious re-thinking. Just because I've always thought a certain thing or gone about doing something a certain way doesn't mean it's necessarily right, and it certainly doesn't mean my way is the only way.

What I'm noticing on these unseasonably warm autumn days outside places of business could actually be the proverbial speck or splinter I'm so quick to notice in an other's eye while missing altogether the mote, the PLANK (let's make it 2X8X12), protruding precariously from my own. How much of the activity filling my days is thoughtfully evaluated for accuracy and worth and its effect on others? Focusing on what another person is doing and disapproving of it keeps me from attending to the things I can do something about, the ONLY things I can do something about. My own actions and attitudes and prejudices.

Cease the "tisk, tisk, tisking," Janet. Step down off your throne, oh, high and lofty one. There's way more than enough thought-free in the world to go around. The question I have to attend to is this: what is it I do in my daily life that would be the equivalent of leaving a car running unattended, the A/C on high?


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