Poop on the Windshield

I heard a story this morning. It wasn’t intended for me, but I heard it nonetheless. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It reminded me of a lesson my friend Rhonda tried to teach me. It seems to be a recurring theme everything I find to read these past few weeks.

I recently began taking Karate. I arrived early for my class today and watched as the more advanced students were finishing their class. The “teacher” was giving final instructions and said,” Remember- it is only poop on the windshield.”  I can’t recite it word for word,  but this is what I heard.  “If a bird poops and it hits your windshield, that’s all it is– poop on the windshield. The bird wasn’t flying around holding it all in until your car drove by.  It had nothing to do with you. He just flew by, let it go, and it landed on your windshield.  Being mad at the bird won’t change it.  You have a choice. You can leave it there or clean it off.  Remember, it isn’t about you.  It’s only poop on the windshield.”

Rhonda said it a little differently. She describes it as your basket. You can only handle what is in your basket. In this case, it would be the poop on the windshield. You need to stop worrying about and trying to fix things in another person’s (or bird’s) basket. It is none of your business. It is not about you. (Sound familiar?)

So what does this have to do with me? For me it’s a lesson about anger, resentment, and more. Let me use driving as an example. I get so angry when another driver pulls out around me or cuts me off.  Its’ a good thing my windows are usually up because I will start raging at the other driver. I use every colorful term available to describe them.  I will carry that anger long after the other car has vanished from sight.  I pray for an unmarked patrol car to pull them over and teach them a lesson.

So, if I think of the other driver as the bird, I will understand that it wasn’t about me. This person didn’t drive around looking for my beautiful blue PT Cruiser to cut me off. It was only a couple of seconds in my life and I have allowed it consume far too much time and energy. The driver’s actions aren’t in my basket. My anger and my reaction are in my basket. How can I be judge and jury? Maybe this person was late to work and one more time being late could mean being fired. Maybe they just had a huge fight with a spouse or friend. Or maybe they are just an asshole. It doesn’t really matter.

I can see this applying to many other things in my life; even things much harder to understand. I know it won’t be easy. Change never is.  Perhaps it isn’t even as simple as I am suggesting.  This isn’t a new lesson. It is one I keep forgetting.  But, I believe it is worth the effort. And, recently it has been shoved right in my face at every turn.

If you follow my blog, you know I love to quote the Big Book (from Alcoholics Anonymous). As I thought about the story today, this passage kept coming to mind. Here is one of the most quoted passages. (I just read a report saying after John 3:16, it may be one of the most quoted passages in literature.) This is from page 449. Oh, and you don’t have to an alcoholic to find something of value in the Big Book.

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

So if you hear me mumbling, “It is only poop on the windshield” under my breath, just smile.  I am trying to remember this lesson.    I want to thank Kyoshi Joyce Stech with Natsu Mura Karate and Koboda for sharing this story today (even if it was for the more advanced students).                        http://www.natsumura.com/instructors.html

14 responses

  1. Cathy, thanks for the follow. Yes, poop on the windshield, indeed. As the partner of an alcoholic, I can say that rage is a daily and abiding emotion, fuelled by the desire to change/fix/save the alcoholic – in other words, to fix what’s in their basket. The thing is, his basket is always loosing its contents into mine, making it one big messy trolley with no clear line of ownership. In this case, at least, I’ve concluded (with heavy heart) that fixing his basket will ultimately fix mine.


    1. You are in a tough situation to be sure. Are you getting support for yourself? The disease takes it toll on everyone in the family. I hope you will see in time that no one—including the most loyal spouse, parent, child, etc. can save an alcoholic. It is truly an inside job. Glad you are writing. It is a powerful tool.


  2. Awesome post ! I really liked it ! And satarted applying it to my own life ! Thank you !


    1. Thank you so much.


  3. I really enjoyed this post, too! Your point that there’s a lot of wisdom in the Big Book for everybody rings true for me. We use “keep your side of the street clean” with our daughters ages 11, 13 and 14, and they totally get that concept. It’s certainly in the same family as poop on the windshield. Thanks a bunch.


  4. You just gave me a brand new mantra for bad days/experiences – just poop on the windshield! I needed this! Thanks!


    1. I was told the original wording was a bit more R rated. LOL


  5. I love “poop on the windshield”–if I give you credit, can I steal it for my blog?


    1. Feel free to share it. I love it, too.


  6. wonderful advice – it reminds me that none of us are as important as we think we are…and thus when others do things *to* us, most of the time, in fact, we are the last thing on anyone else’s mind. So yeah, all we can do is focus on what is in our control (our behavior, our reactions, our thinking) and let go of what is not. Easy to say and wildly, weirdly difficult to do.


  7. […] We talked a while about not taking on the problem of someone else.  This was his problem. It affected her but it wasn’t about her.   She didn’t cause his problem, his behavior, or his choices.  Sound familiar?  It is just “poop on the windshield.” […]


  8. thetwistingkaleidoscope | Reply

    That’s a great point. We tend to take everything so personally–whether it’s the slow cashier in checkout or the guy who cuts us off in traffic or even the kid who doesn’t want to go to bed. Hard to pull ourselves out of the mode of thinking that we’re the center of EVERYONE’S universe, isn’t it?


  9. […] Pooping on people – Photo credit: cathysvoicenow (wordpress) […]


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