The Best of Intentions

Photo by Paris Lopez on

It was a lovely early morning. I was completing the Wordle puzzle of the day while the sun slowly began to rise. The house was quiet as my husband and father-in-law continued to sleep. Only the sound of our heater humming to keep us warm on a cold winter day echoed in softly in the background. I felt blissful as I sipped on my tea and enjoyed the slow start of a new day. 

Suddenly the annoying roar of a leaf blower assaulted my calm. The darkness had barely gone away and yet there was a horrible drone that made my stomach clench ruining the peacefulness that had only recently hovered over my early morning rituals. Nothing about the moment felt right at just past seven in the a.m. I arose from the comfort of my chair to see who and what was daring to destroy the calm. I saw a landscaper working just down the street happily doing his job unaware of the commotion he had created. 

Of course I understood that he no doubt had many lawns to manicure before the shortened winter day turned dark once again. He was no doubt a hardworking man eager to take advantage of the first light of day, but did he really have to wake the dead with his raucous noise before eight in the morning? Had he even thought about those who might still be trying to sleep? I’m guessing that he never even considered such things. He was awake, so he assumed everyone else was as well. Never mind that a slumbering baby might now be crying or that an old man would be startled awake sooner than usual. Does he even realize how the loud drone of his blower at such an early time sets a disturbing tempo for the start of the day?

I know I sound like a grumpy old woman. I used to roll my eyes when I read about townships that outlawed blowers entirely or crafted rules that only allowed them to be used during certain hours. I found such ideas to be invasive, the stuff of demanding people who were unable to adjust to the needs of workers whose livelihoods depend on being the early bird. Suddenly I too was grumbling and complaining about noise like a grouch. Had I become a curmudgeon without even realizing it? Was I really so tied to my morning routine that I would not even be willing to show compassion for someone with work to do while I reveled in my retirement?

Once I quelled my irritation I felt a bit of shame. The commotion of noise only lasted about fifteen minutes and then it was silent again. I was none the worse for the brief interruption. My heartbeat slowed again and my breathing became calm. Perhaps it was silly of me to overreact. Still, I wonder if maybe a compromise might be in order. Perhaps such noisy work should not begin until eight in the morning. Maybe we all need to bend a little the help each other. Perhaps neither my routine nor his have to be set in stone. 

Life is like my morning was on that day. Things often happen when we least expect them. We make our plans believing that they will be fulfilled only to be faced with the unforeseen. It jolts us, makes us anxious, but if we wait just a bit most of us adjust to whatever situation has come our way. We’ve had a lot of adapting to do in the last few years. Our world has seemed to be spinning out of control. We have been jolted. Our routines have been tested. We’ve disagreed on how to deal with the many issues that strain our patience. 

Our challenges have been way more significant that being annoyed by the sound of a loud blower early in the morning. Many of our issues have been a matter of life and death. We’re all reacting to the startling feelings that such things cause. We want to blame someone, become angry with someone, when we really need to first calm down, allow our hearts to beat slower, our breaths to come more easily. When we quell our anxieties we are much more likely to realize that we survive best on this earth when we are able to work together with all of the flexibility that such an idea implies. 

The simple truth is that our world has been pounded by a novel virus that did its best to overwhelm our hospitals and our medical communities. We had to react with so little knowledge. We had to make decisions quickly. There were bumps and misfires just as such situations always cause. Those leading had to move quickly with very little knowledge about what was right and what was wrong. Over time as they learned more and more about the virus they were able to change. Missteps were not nefarious. They were only the result of needing to respond to the emergency without hesitation and then adjust and readjust as new information became available. We all participated in the scientific method at its best.Now that we are moving into a quieter phase of the endemic version of the virus we can still our hearts, slow our breathing. Our goal should not be to punish anyone who attempted to help us, but to study the situation and craft plans for the future health crises that may come our way. Even as we do this, we need to understand that our best laid plans may often go awry.

I overcame my anger over the leaf blower. I eventually understood that the poor man doing his work had no ill intent even if he did create a furor. He eventually went his way to tackle the next job. In truth any harm he had done in so crassly awakening the neighborhood went away as quickly as the sound of his droning machine did. There was no need to accuse him of being inconsiderate because I don’t think that was his intent at all. I was fine once I thought things through. Everyone was fine. Our little cul-de-sac returned to it’s peaceful routine. Perhaps that is what we all need to do now that the biggest danger of the virus seems to be dwindling. Nobody intended to make things hard for us during the last few years. The intentions were to keep us safe. How can we complain about that?