Practicing Integrity

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loveFor the past several months I’ve pondered frequently about integrity in my writing, my job, my love of positive and thought provoking quotes, and even when I’m driving around in my car. Specifically, I want to better myself in “walking the walk.”

It’s not that difficult to find fantastic and inspiring quotes. It’s not difficult to share these quotes in a note to a friend. It’s not difficult to clip a quote from a magazine and stick it to the refrigerator. It’s not even difficult to enjoy thinking about great quotes in a meditative fashion.

Where I am most tested with integrity is in the everyday situation~when I forget my quotes and inspirational thoughts.

Three weeks ago, I drove my car to a coffee shop where you can drive up to a speaker, order your coffee and then drive up to a window where you pay and receive your coffee. The first three times this woman spoke through the speaker, all I could hear was garbled static sounds and then the word “Africa.” I even looked over at my son in the passenger seat and asked him if he could understand what was said and he shook his head. I apologized to the woman and asked if she could speak with her mouth further from the microphone. She did. The question: Would you like to buy a pound of coffee and the proceeds go to help children in Africa? I said, “Sure.” The woman said, “Great! That will be $15.00 at the window.” That was it. She was gone.

I sat there until she spoke through the speaker again. “Yes?” she asked. “I wanted to order a couple of coffee drinks.” The woman laughed and asked me what kind of coffee we wanted. I ordered the drinks and drove forward. I waited behind the car in front of me for several minutes (nearly ten minutes to be exact) while I watched this woman lean out the window and talk with a person who appeared to be her friend.

This is where I get frustrated and “forget” that I truly want to be kind, understanding and sympathetic. I start thinking things like “incompetent, rude, time is wasting.” And without fail, once I start thinking about the negatives, the more negatives come my way. The woman in the car in front of me finally leaves. I drive to the window feeling frustrated and then she asks me if I’d like my coffee beans ground. Since I don’t own a coffee grinder I needed to have the beans ground…this could have been accomplished during my ten minute wait.

My quandary is that if I complain, I’m continuing the cycle of frustration…if I don’t, the next person receives the same kind of lackadaisical service and in the end I’m frustrated either way. I remind myself when I am pulling away that I should “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” (Plato), and that the “True measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. Do something great for a stranger today” (Unknown).

Just a few days after this experience, I decided to put signs on the backseat side windows of my car. They both say LOVE. Knowing that I have these signs in my windows for everyone to see, keeps my integrity where I want it to be. I am Love and while I’m in my car, I am very aware of this because of the signs serve as reminders.

We are all spirits in progress. Patience is my hardest area. Wayne Dyer says “If you have eternal patience you will experience immediate results.” I will spend more time on understanding and practicing this one.

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