avoiding the instinct: gesticular cancer

That one gesture, that universal conveyance of anger and defiance, that singular finger. Yet beyond what can causally be attributed to this or that surface09a4fd_39633f424aee474b8d708d4d9a20eabb offense or vernacular veneer, why is it so pervasive? What lies under the skin that ignores patience and forgiveness?

Looking outward: Someone aggressively weaves in and out of congested traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway with the no-holds-barred determination of getting to that McDonald’s or bank drive-thru window 90 seconds earlier. Rather than react with that all-too-common shot of disgust, rather than increase hormones and heartbeats, why not just let it pass? As difficult as it can sometimes be, love thy neighbor as thyself isn’t just some Biblical catchphrase to be tossed like so much salad dressing. Why buy into the kind of pharmaceutical-grade drama that can suck the life out of an otherwise peaceful moment? Why not consider stepping back and feeling empathy for that person, grateful that your own stomach is full, that you’ve got use of both legs, that your breathing is regular, that you’re not lying in a hospital bed?

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learning another language: cursed words

It’s a very safe bet that everyone reading this has either directly had the following experience or knows someone who has—spouse, child, friend,oui-non relative or colleague:

You’ve taken three or four years of high-school French or Spanish, then another three or four more years in college (where the offerings are significantly broader, extending from Mandarin to Russian to Hindi and all points between)… and six months later you remember a few dozen words and cannot speak or read the language, as far from fluency as Paris is from Beijing. You’re intelligent and motivated, and did all of the requested homework, yet the results speak for themselves. I simply have no gift for languages, you think, and move on to other areas of study and projects that yield tangible results.

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sitting in traffic: road kill

The concept of sitting amongst interminable traffic is so widespread and familiar as to make regular clichés seem like fresh air in Beijing. How we respond can make the Wait Lossdifference between being impatient and forlorn for the entire day or at peace with productivity in light of what cannot be changed.

Do we curse or listen to an audiobook? Do we throw up a thin body part in a form of gesticular cancer or do we put on a foreign language-learning CD? Do we feel stress to the point of needing a heart stent or do we call ahead and let them know that we’ll be late?

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