Dirty water on my face
Every so often, the universe has a way of teaching you a lesson. Mine happened on a rainy day in Singapore.
It had been raining hard. Really hard. It was one of those monsoon storms — short and sharp and very wet.
I was on Braddell Road, walking on the pavement. Now a certain part of Braddell Road has a small crater. When it rains the crater becomes a pond.
I approached the pond at a walking speed of 5kmh. At exactly the same moment, in the opposite direction, a double-decker bus approached the pond at 60kmh.
The road was empty. The bus had a choice of three lanes. For reasons only known to the bus-driver, he chose the left-hand part of the left-hand lane.
If you didn't know better you would say he deliberately aimed at the puddle.
So great was the impact of his bus on the puddle that a six-foot bow wave leapt up from the road and attacked the pavement. I know it was six-foot because that is how high my hairstyle is.
I got soaked. From head to toe.
A sudden rage rose inside me. Puddle rage can get ugly. I felt burning anger. I opened my mouth to commission the rage to destroy the fast-retreating bus.
And then a magical thing happened.
Ella, my six-year old daughter, let out one of her winning chuckles.
"Haha," she beamed. "That was cool!"
And with a playful skip, still holding my hand, she excitedly jumped and leaped and danced and pirouetted in delirious joy.
"You got totally wet, daddy!" she pointed and laughed, quite forgetting that she was as drenched as I.
"Do it again, Mr Bus!" she called out after the bus. "Let's go surfing!"
As my fringe dripped its dirty puddle water, the situation slowly dawned on me.
Little did I expect that a few days later I would get splashed in the face by a bus-driver that I had to forgive.
Your own words have a way of coming back to find you. When the universe tests your moral pronouncements it often uses you as the lab rat.
We can be so wise for other people and yet baulk at practising our own advice. We say one thing; and do another. We demand a higher standard for others and yet excuse the lower standard in ourselves.
I can wax lyrical on respecting and loving bus-drivers, pontificate on the merits of laughing at myself. I can even pen odes to the virtues of forgiveness. But can I practise what I preach?
Every day I have a thousand small hypocrisies. The life I speak and the life I lead so often diverge. Without paying attention, the thousand small incongruities and inconsistencies stack up. If I do not watch out, I can become the Mayor of the land of Dis-Reality. In such a place, hypocrisy is the thing that everyone has, except me.
We need to be rescued from our blind hypocrisies by looking at ourselves with someone else's eyes.
On that day, I was fortunate to be rescued by a six-year old who saw the same situation but with different eyes. She was better at living out my principles than I was.
I watched little Ella, dancing in happiness, without a care in the world, even though her pretty dress and carefully brushed hair were ruined.
Those who are wet and laugh have more fun than those who are wet and don't.
"Haha," I found myself spontaneously chuckling back at her. "That really was cool, wasn't it?"
We gave each other a high-five and continued down the road, glad to be leaving behind both the puddle and the small crater of pride.