My (Bike) Path to Consideration
This is the Inaugural Post for TenSecondsToConsider.
Welcome to TenSecondsToConsider, a blog and future book based on the premise that most Conscious Acts of Consideration take Ten Seconds or Less to conceive, initiate, and/or accomplish.
I make a distinction between Acts of Kindness and Conscious Acts of Consideration because while being kind is certainly a basic and essential part of human decency – and welcome as such – I believe that being Considerate takes Kindness to a different level; comes from a different place; and goes toward a more developed facility to be kind in kind. That is to say, Consideration aims to be locally appropriate to the object of consideration.
Today I want to relate a recent experience where I almost failed in my own mission to become a more considerate person.
In future posts, I will not hold back even in the instances where I fail to act on something I’ve identified through consideration.
Now, on to the story…
My (Bike) Path to Consideration
It was just the other day that I was biking down the bike lane as fast as I could go, watching for opening car doors parked along the street, sweating, determined to get to the dedicated bike and pedestrian path that leads to Burbank, California from North Hollywood as fast as I could.
In my path ahead, though, was some bulky item, seen as a silhouette before the rising morning sun. As I got closer – fast – I realized it was someone pushing a way loaded shopping cart1 in the bike lane.
Crisis! I’m going fast, the last traffic light has unleashed a swarm of cars behind me rushing to work, and I can’t get into the traffic lane fast enough to get around the cart before I’m overtaken.
Gotta slow down. Only choice. Not happy. Not on my agenda. Plus! We’re just about to go under the 170 overpass where big RV’s park like it’s a KOA Campground and there are unsavory people there, not to mention bad smells from no facilities. Yuk!
So I slow down and come to almost a standstill behind the person struggling with the shopping cart barge. I realize it’s a woman. And that, because of my own made-up moral/value system, takes my thoughts to a different stance.
She begins to try to move the cart over behind a car in the parking lane. I call out to her to say that it’s okay, I can go around and that she’s fine where she is.
I get a break in the traffic lane and I move to go around her and as I’m passing, I look toward her and she smiles an apology for interrupting my flow. I give her a thankful smile and make a moment of eye contact as I pass forward.
So now I’m back on my path; on my mission and my agenda. But something’s nagging at me. I review that in that moment of eye contact, I saw the spark of life – of cognizance – in the woman’s eyes. I also registered vulnerability, despite her offering a smile through those eyes.
Then I begin to consider – which is to say that I think about her rather than my own itinerary. I’m still pedaling forward, but more slowly. In less than Ten Seconds, I play out the “what if” of continuing on my way:
If I keep going, I could just offer up a prayer for her and that would be good. I don’t want to get involved in any weird energies. I’m on my bike and so what offer of real help could I be? BUT! How would I write this up for a blog post?
So right up front, I will shamefully admit that a small portion of my decision to turn around and go back was from a desire to alleviate the shame of not going back to offer something and for a good blog post. But that smile…
Returning, I choose to stop well in front of the last RV that’s at the end of the overpass so that when the woman passes the RV she won’t be startled to find me there. And she does make it around the RV and there I am, a disarming smile ready along with a five-dollar-bill in folded into my hand I’ve made ready.
I say “Hi” and ask if she could use some breakfast. She’s confused by this question and answers No, she doesn’t need breakfast. I offer the $5 anyway and she thankfully takes it. She says thank you to me again. I think to ask her name, finally. She is Tanika and she shakes my extended hand.
I say I wish I could do more and ask if I can at least pray for her and she appreciatively says, “Yes.”
I place one of my hands on her shoulder, keeping my bike steady between my legs with the other and we bow our heads (haven’t bothered to actually get off my bike!). I pray for her – sincerely but not too long; I try to cover her immediate and future needs. I squeeze her shoulder as we end with “Amen!” together.
I hear a voice from the sidewalk and turn to see a younger man trailing a large black suitcase. He’s said a hearty, “Amen!” also.
Surprised, even though I noted a man on the sidewalk as I rode past initially, I ask if the two of them are hanging out together. They both say yes. I ask his name. He is Marquel (I have him spell it because I haven’t encountered that name before).
Marquel offers, “We’re going (somewhere, didn’t catch it) because I’ve been approved for section 8 housing.”
I look to Tanika and she nods, still smiling at me. “That’s fantastic!”, I say, even though I don’t really know what that means. There’s a bit more conversation about that, but I can’t recall it exactly.
I apologize to both of them that I can’t do more as I’m on my way on my bike and all. I really don’t know what the heck I’m saying, to be honest. I’m not good at this.
Then Marquel says, “We just really appreciate that you stopped and acknowledged us. It really means a lot and we can always take any prayers you can offer.”
Hearing this is something I’ve either never heard; never put myself into the situation to hear it; or never imagined I’d hear from a homeless person. So it blows my mind that something I’ve done has been appropriate, appreciated, and acknowledged. All of a sudden I feel love for these two, Tanika and Marquel. (It now reminds me of how prejudice prevails as well as how it is dispelled – something for a future post.)
With a “God bless you.”, I speak their names again and they bid me farewell as I continue down the bike lane, Tanika and Marquel with a wave to me.
I ride away, picking up speed, reciting their names a number of times in case I see them again (hoping I don’t, because that means…). I pray more for them and give thanks for this encounter. And I give thanks for a chance to exercise my Gift of Helps and for a better blog post.
All because I took TenSecondsToConsider.
Author’s Note: How many times have I written the intro, thrust, and point to this inaugural post? How many attempts at a title? I suspect I am discovering the Art of the Blog.
This is what Consideration is all about – momentarily interrupting your routine flow of activity to really look at a situation or person as they really are. To experience that person; to cultivate empathy; to grow in understanding of your world and your place in it and to improve it. As the Special Forces would call it, Situational Awareness. They say that becoming Mindful of your environment at any given moment not only protects you, it can enrich your life and others’ lives in ways you may not have believed.
Not every consideration leads to action; not every action leads to change; but every consideration leads to an expanding mindfulness. That’s a good thing.
That’s what this blog and these articles and posts are about – the premise that most Acts of Consideration take Ten Seconds or Less out of our lives to instigate and/or carry out.
For now I leave it to you: How have you experienced Conscious Acts of Consideration? Have you paused to Consider something that ended in a positive result? Please share those stories with me!
I also would appreciate your considerate Liking, Following, and Sharing of my Ten2Consider Facebook, Blog, and Twitter feeds.