This week I got caught in a rainstorm. It was one of those sideways rain downpours that seemingly comes out of nowhere and chucks buckets.
In uncharacteristic fashion, I had an umbrella on me. I only had an umbrella because I happened to catch a glimpse of a TV earlier that day that warned of possible rain later that day. And I uncharacteristically remembered to grab an umbrella when I went home later on.
When the rain began and people started to sprint, huddle in doorways or just endure the soaking, I was one of the few people I spotted who had an umbrella.
My initial reaction as I put my umbrella up was guilt — should I offer to walk the grandfather caught with his grandchild in a stroller with no protection? Or the woman next to me at the crosswalk in a dress that would soon be see-through?
I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t end up helping anyone. What’s worse, my feelings of guilt quickly turned to smug satisfaction. “Well, that’s why you check the weather, people!” I thought to myself– me, the very woman who has been caught in no fewer than half a dozen downpours this year alone.
I got on the subway and caught the eye of another umbrella holder. And we shared this little smile — the self-righteous smile of two people who had quickly forgotten what it’s like to get soaking wet in a downpour.
“Oh god, am I terrible person?” I wondered when I caught myself mid-smugness.
I’ve since concluded that terrible people probably don’t wonder if they’re terrible people — they’re too busy being terrible to care.
(I’ve also concluded I don’t think “terrible people” exist — just really, really damaged ones. But that’s a different discussion.)
Chances are, at some point you might also wonder if you are a terrible person. And I want to assure you that you most certainly are not.
I felt a little proud of myself for having an umbrella and I allowed my ego to turn that pride into some feeling of moral superiority.
Terrible? No. Ridiculous? Frequently. And that’s a terribly human thing to be. I’m grateful I noticed it and I’ll hopefully do better next time.
I wish you a weekend (and a life) full of compassion for yourself and everyone else, in all of our humanity, even the ridiculous bits.