Our driver has made a mistake. The car is now stranded on one lane trying to merge onto another. Until our destination clears, we are forced to dangerously block the approaching traffic. Cars are racing towards us. I sense a surge crawl from the base of my spine to the tip of my head in anticipation of impact. “Foolish decision,” I think to myself, yet in this life-threatening moment, finding fault seems more foolish than the driver’s folly. Does it matter who’s to blame if we’re struck dead?

“No time to judge,” says another thought; “just watch.”

The cars speeding towards us screech as they brake. I see their hinds rise and their fronts swivel. A few more screeches from the cars behind them. Further distant screeches from the many cars we’re blocking in mid-highway. Then a silence pregnant with emergency. I see the startled drivers through their windshields. It appears no collision has occurred. Their alarm transitions into rage. They honk, shout, and gesture wildly, signaling that we’re crazy.

“Don’t react, just watch,” persists the voice, contrary to instinct.

The lane before us clears and we merge forward, the traffic on both sides regaining momentum. Even this moment has passed, like water under the bridge! Still aflame with adrenaline, I ponder how imminent death has shed an altogether new light on human reaction. What is the aim of negativity? Did the drivers express it to avert collision? The crash would have obviously occurred regardless of their anger. Did they express it to establish fault? Our fault was crystal-clear independently of their cursing. No, the aim of negativity isn’t to prevent or indict, but to release; to discharge the moment of its pregnant pressure.

Throughout our lives, negativity beckons in a multitude of moments. Broad and blind is the way that overlooks through judgment. Narrow and intentional is the way that sees through observation. Avoid expressing negative emotions, not because they’re bad, or hurtful, or even useless. Avoid expressing negative emotions, because that is the narrow way to uncovering the moment’s lesson.

Image by mrbrenner (shared under the creative commons license)