Opposite reactions and an inner compass

We were getting out of a parking lot on our bikes recently. Our 4 year old was having some difficulty maneuvering her bike. A man who was waiting for her to turn to get into his car gave me an exasperated look.

Once she managed to get out and cross the road, I noticed folks in one of the cars that was waiting give her and us a warm smile.

I’ve experienced this a few times as a parent over the years. A year or so ago, we saw this play out in the seats in front of us on a flight. Our then one and a half year old tapped on the seat in front of him just as we were getting seated. In response, the man in front of him told him off.

I tried reminding him that he’s just one and a half and is just getting seated. “My kids didn’t behave this way when they were small” – he shot back and continued to grumble for the next ten minutes about having to sit in front of misbehaving kids.

Another passenger in the same row tried reminding him that the offending kid was all of eighteen months. He also shared that he missed his kid while he was traveling and gave us kind smiles.

To no avail.

They finally moved seats a few minutes later.

Such experiences remind me that we perceive situations differently. This perception is a result of our mindset, our environment, and our previous experiences.

They also serve to remind me of the importance of an inner compass. The more dependent we are on the approval and perception of others, the more likely we’ll find joy and tranquility absent in our days.