Today, on my way to work, I hit a bird with my car. It was bizarre and traumatic. I was driving along, cursing how hot it was in my car and wishing the blasting air would start to cool it, and then it happened. A small bird flew out from the brush to my right and was right in front of me. I didn’t see it pass my bumper, and as I looked in my rear-view mirror, I saw it tumble down to the road. I screamed and was so confused about how I had run a bird over with my car. I felt horrible!
I forgot all about the bird as my hectic day went on. I got back into my car, tired and ready to be home, and left work. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I remembered the bird. I was saddened as I thought about it and, because my mind is frequently in hyper mode, thought about the implications.
It was weird and a (hopefully) once in a life time accident. But it happened. We do harm when we don’t intend to, or even understand that we are about to. We say and do things that seem small, that appear to be innocuous, but they break and kill and wound. You expect to hit a cat or skunk with your car, but not a bird. They have defenses, the upper hand. The odds were against me taking out a flyer, but I did. So much of what we say or do has no evil intent. We shouldn’t be able to hurt others with the little jabs, but they leave scars that never fade. It catches us by surprise how powerful we are, how destructive we are, how fragile we are.
This should be an epiphany. I should know that I have the ability to change others with small actions, to devastate with my words. I should remember that the smallest gestures matter, that sticks and stones may shatter bones, but words go after the soul. I affect others, and may not even realize when it happens. And yet, the snarky remarks will slip (or spew) out. The eye rolls will sneak in. I am me, in all my cruelty and callousness. I am more than just that: I am kind and considerate, loving and loyal. But the darkness is there too, defines me just as much as the good. It is also just as powerful. If nothing else, this will hopefully cross my mind from time to time and remind me that there are big consequences to all that I do, even when it’s a little accident.
“We’re all damaged, it seems. Some of us more than others. We carry the damage with us from childhood, then as grown-ups, we give as good as we get. Ultimately, we all do damage. And then, we set about the business of fixing whatever we can.” Gray’s Anatomy, “Damage Case”