Swearing at the Corner of Life and Death
Yesterday I was walking downtown with my sons. Just a little mom and son time. Breakfast crepes and waffles are great way to start the day. On our way to the Farmer’s market a block away I saw something that chilled me to the bone and then without thinking made my blood boil. A guy in huge truck slammed on his brakes…within an inch of hitting an elderly man who was already in the middle of crosswalk, and then proceeded to curse at the man who almost died to from his reckless behavior. Shocked at this person’s selfishness, I cursed loudly at the truck peeling off. In front of my boys and a group nearby. I did not care and I do not regret my words, because no one else was going to say them and my boys were watching you. Sir – you are the one who F%$& up here. “Gramps” as you put it, did not run out in front of you.
I am a firm believer the world does not get better unless we acknowledge our part in the mess. It can’t always be about someone else doing things that inconvenience you. Sure. No one died today and maybe that’s why you didn’t think it had anything to do with you. Here is the thing though. My boys and I were crossing the other sidewalk and we could see how much space was left between you and the man you almost hurt. An inch was the difference between life and death. A fraction of a second more could have changed this scene for the worse. You may think, so what? It shocked the guy crossing the street but at least he gets to walk home! And the irritating behavior of the driver was the result of shock. Never mind the yield sign and the pedestrian crossing. We don’t always process what’s happening to us with grace. The thing is, this incident and other incidents like are not just about the the two people involved – it includes the observers.
Who cares though. What’s done is done, right?
Well something else shocked me that day. Like I said I don’t regret my words that needed to be said in our community with more frequency. I was shocked that I chose to swear… instead of taking action. Funny how getting swept up in emotions will side track you from showing up in the community. I could have swiped a pic of the license plate. I could have approached the man to give him the picture and asked him if he was alright. Instead I has chosen to allow my anger to win. That surprised me personally. Knowing I could do better and in that moment I did not. Shocking because I thought I had the freedom to choose in swearing.
What I know this means is there is a part of me who is still angry. An anger that is triggered when I smell injustices of all shapes and sizes. It clouds the tone of my words and how I deliver the message of the hour. An anger that showed up in my writing in the handwriting of what appeared to be a crazy woman. Initially I did not recognize this woman, but my awareness of this anger made me realize things in my life were not right. It infused everything including my writing, blogging, and additional endeavors. I had to put the frustrations of these pieces to the side and deal with the matter head on. I eventually fought through the darkness by swearing my way back into the light. Which maybe is why I am having a hard time letting go of swearing. It was a helpful tool, if not essential. It helped me to connect to my most primal of feelings and acknowledge them for what they were. Swearing was good for my soul.
Now that I don’t need to swear as much, I wonder why I’m still enjoying it. Why I’m still relying on it to express my self. As delicious and joyful as the words are to release, I wonder if that is not the right tool for me anymore. My New Years Resolution was to quit swearing, but maybe instead of focusing on “quitting” as the answer is to find a core connection in other more wholesome ways.
At the corner of life and death yesterday, I realized swearing was a short cut I may no longer need.