But everyone else is doing it!

Speeding ticket

Just recently, I received a lovely yellow ticket from a man in blue on the side of the road. It’s my second speeding ticket in the 25 years I’ve had my licence, which is not bad in the grand scheme of things. I’ll leave it to you to decide if I’m a great driver or just very lucky 😉

As I sat there after handing him my licence, I felt the car rock with each car that went past. Judging by the amount the car moved, I think I could safely say that not many others knew or chose to abide by the fact that it was, indeed, a 60km/h zone. I would not be the only one to go home with a yellow piece of paper that day, I suspect!

On the way home, I thought about how many cars seemed to be speeding past me and I started to get angry. Why weren’t all of them getting a ticket? Out of all the cars going over the speed limit on that road that day, only a small percentage would pay for it. And the fact that I was one of them didn’t sit well.

I started to feel that it was so unfair that I now had a fine and loss of demerit points, while others were going to get away with it. And as I drove, I noticed every slightest traffic infringement – evidence that it wasn’t just me who did the wrong thing, so why could they get away with it while I got caught!?

We have a tendency to do this throughout life, don’t we? We base our behaviour more on those around us than on the actual standards for living. We might treat our spouse horribly but justify it by saying, well, at least I’m not having an affair or beating them. We are impatient and yell at our kids but tell ourselves that at least we’re providing food and clothing for them. We clock off work early but fill out our time sheet to reflect otherwise and defend it by comparing ourselves to the workmate who steals company stationary.

We can’t rationalise or excuse our behaviour by comparing it to the lowest denominator. How many of us have said to a teenager “Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s right.”? Yet, so often, we think things are okay for the very reason that ‘everyone is doing it’.

The fact of the matter is that I received a speeding ticket because I was speeding. End of story. The fact that people speed every day and don’t get caught has nothing to do with it.

We must decide for ourselves what our behaviour and actions will be and live accordingly, rather than looking at what everyone else is doing and lowering our standards to be the same or even just slightly better.

Our behaviour is our responsibility, no-one else’s; just as we can’t control other people’s behaviour, only they can. I think we need to mind our own business a bit more, in the right way. If we concentrate on what we know to be right and good, it’s much easier to maintain the level of living that we desire, instead of being swayed by what we see others doing.

Love is bittersweet

A dear friend of mine is facing tragic news about a loved one. In telling me the news, something she said brought even more tears to my eyes for its sheer beauty.

“We’re just trying to keep things normal at the moment, you know, doing all our usual things. We don’t need to suddenly focus on spending time doing special things together and savouring every moment because we’ve always done that.”

And it’s true, the relationships I see that surround this friend are close, connected and full of appreciation and love for one another. It’s real, not saccharine in any way, and it’s beautiful.

So many people don’t realise they need to do the special things now. They wait until an impending disaster looms before seeing that it’s the people who matter. They wait until the news that they are going to lose someone they love hits them right between the eyes before they begin to value them above work, money, success or security.

How refreshing, how heartbreakingly wonderful, to know people who get it and live like it. It’s been a reminder to me to live in the moment more; to appreciate, really properly, those around me; to not wait until I only have weeks, months or a couple of years to enjoy and delight in those I love and who love me.

There’s a bittersweet sadness that comes from losing a loved one you are thoroughly invested in. It makes it harder that they are going but there’s such enormous comfort in knowing you gave it all you had, that you loved without limits or conditions. Bittersweet but completely worth it.

Are you wasting time working, accumulating things money can buy, on the false notion that there is time later for relationships? There is truly nothing more devastating than knowing you’ve been focusing on what doesn’t matter and doesn’t count at the expense of those around you who might be gone in an instant.

You might live to a ripe old age, and all your loved ones too, then, how wonderful to have lived a life rich in love, full and brimming with joy because you relished it. And if you don’t, or if a loved one doesn’t, you will know you sucked the very marrow out of life for however long you had together.

Don’t place value on things that don’t deserve it.

Don’t wait. Live the special moments now. And do it with all your heart.