Trying to get in an “Elul” frame of mind, I have had a few experiences in the last few days which have made an impact on me.
Yesterday, I had a meeting at which three people were writing down everything I said. This is unusual for me, as usually I am the one doing the writing, but it was a powerful reminder of the mishna in Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers) which says: “Contemplate three things, and you will not come to the hands of transgression: Know what is above from you: a seeing eye, a listening ear, and all your deeds being inscribed in a book.”
Earlier in the week, while dropping the children off at school, we encountered a Traffic Jam. I’m writing it with capitals because it was like a scenario from the game.* The school, as I have mentioned before is on the corner of a T-junction and the management enforce a one way system down the stem of the T at drop-off/pick-up times, for parents. Of course, this does not apply to members of the public, although I suspect that neighbours either stay out of the way for those 20 minutes or also only go one way. However, the other day, a large lorry was making its way up the road in the opposite direction, and causing a lot of congestion while doing so. I let the children out of the car a short way from the corner, as did a lot of other parents, but we still had to get our cars out of the area. One kind father who had walked his children to school took on the role of the player and tried to direct the traffic to enable the lorry to get out of the jam, while the security guard ensured that all the children reached the school safely. It is always fascinating when these hold-ups occur to see how, while some people are prepared to wait, and let other vehicles through into gaps, other people always assume that the people in front don’t have a clue and are just sitting there randomly, so that the best thing to do is to jump the queue, block the space and cause more congestion. While I was watching several people do this, it occurred to me that this is like an allegory for life. We can’t see the bigger picture and realise that sometimes we might have to wait, or even reverse, to enable traffic to run smoothly. Instead, we jump forwards, taking advantage of spaces that should have remained empty and rather than experiencing a easy passage through a challenge, we end up in a worse situation than before.
* Turns out I meant Rush Hour and Traffic Jam is an onlive version, which I’m not linking to!