The challenge has been over for a couple of days now. I've been distracted with family crises and hadn't been able to reflect on the experience as a whole much until now.
I've spent much of the practice asking myself if it's making a difference yet. If I'm any different. It hadn't seemed like it had, and I wondered, off and on, if I was doing it right, or if it should be taking this long.
Yesterday, my mom-in-law and I were going home from the hospital with my sister-in-law, who had minor hand surgery. A cab was taking us back to her college campus, so the three of us piled in, a bit exhausted, obviously, from the experience. The cab driver pulled away, and I forgot to tell him to stop at a drugstore before going home so we could pick up the tylenol she was supposed to be taking for the pain.
About halfway through the trip I remembered, and I asked the driver to please take a detour so we could run that errand, and he just got so upset. He berated me for not telling him before, pointed out he had come all the way across town and didn't know where a drug store was now, and was just totally thrown for a loop. I apologized for not telling him sooner, recognizing the inconvenience I had caused him, but insisted that this was important and I needed him to turn around. He only got angrier once he had, waving his arms and yelling. My poor sister, overwrought from the anxiety of the operation, and probably still dealing with the anesthetic in her system started crying, and of course her mother was furious, and trying to comfort her at the same time.
"That is enough." I stated in a voice certainly not free from an angry tone, and certainly loud enough to be heard over his ranting. I reminded him that I had acknowledged the inconvenience I was causing him, and that I had apologized, and while I understood he was upset, he had expressed that already, and he could not keep yelling at us for the remainder of the ride.
It didn't actually stop him, of course, he just got on his radio and yelled at the dispatcher instead, who also told him he needed to calm down. I pointed out he might give himself an ulcer if he carried on this way often. We pulled into a grocery, and my mom-in-law ran in to get the medicine. Meanwhile he left the car to call the dispatcher, thank goodness, giving us some quiet in which to regroup. The next thing I knew he had thrust his phone at me, and was yelling at his dispatcher to "tell HER that then!"
I took the phone and calmly explained to the confused dispatcher that I was the fare, and he had handed the phone to me. The dispatcher was able to explain that since the ride was being expensed to the school, there was no way to charge them for the time spent waiting in the parking lot. I apologized, and explained I hadn't known that at all; our driver hadn't said anything about that, and offered to pay the difference myself. By the time we left the parking lot, the dispatcher asked, very apologetically, that I give $4 to the cab driver and we'd call it even. He was silent the whole way home, and when I handed him the money, I thanked him, and suggested that in the future he might want to try calmly explaining the situation instead of losing his temper.
We were all fine, of course, and went on with our day. It wasn't until I got home that night and read the final section of Sharon's book about continuing the practice that something clicked.
"I think the meditation is working." I said to my husband.
"Oh?" he asked.
"No matter how out of control that cab driver got, even though I was angry with him and knew it wasn't acceptable how he was treating us, I never lost track of the fact that he must have been coming from a place of great pain or fear to be responding like that to a simple request. I really felt sorry for him. I didn't lose my temper, or feel overwhelmed, or frightened, or hurt because I knew that this was something that was happening to him, not me. He was hurting himself, and we just happened to be there. He wanted to be happy just like us, and wasn't very good at it yet."
As Sharon said in the book, "I think that's enough!"
We'll see what a lifetime of the practice will bring. :-)