I'm leaving for my first trip to India in about 46 hours. I've been desperately, painfully anxious about leaving--- my family, the studio, my familiar daily habits. It's pretty obvious that I'm sort of losing it. Last night my friend (and student, and teacher) Erika emailed me a podcast that she thought might be of value during this tumultuous emotional time. The podcast, by Tara Brach, is called Remembering and Choosing Loving Presence.
This morning I had to drop my car off on Beacon Hill to get new brakes. I decided to walk to work and use this bonus time to listen to the podcast. I love walking and relished the rain free morning to be in the city. It was commuting time and the hustle and bustle was alive and well all around-- the buses, light rail commuters, the kids going to school. One of the things I've made a personal commitment to do in the last few years is to look as many strangers as I can in the eyes-- to smile or say hi, to just make contact and feel like the world is still small enough that we see each other individually.
As I got to the bottom of Fourteenth Avenue to the base of the Jose Rizal Bridge, I noticed someone walking much faster than I was coming from behind to pass me. I turned to see his face and looked into his eyes and smiled. In reply, he said, "You nasty ass tramp......" (I couldn't hear the rest over my ear buds once he passed in front of me).
I was surprised, hurt, and a little bit scared. This comment came at the exact time that Tara Brach was guiding her listeners to contemplate how we want people to see us in the world. I got to a crosswalk just after the man passed and, though it was against the side of the street I would eventually need to be on, opted to wait for the light and cross the street. I needed to symbolically cross away from that sentiment in my life.
The timing of this was profound. I continued walking up twelfth and felt some of my joy returning. The colors of the International District, the smells, the murals on the street cars and dragons hanging from the electrical poles all brought me back to that urban wonder I love so much. The podcast continued on about opening up, allowing for loving presence in our lives, not grasping for what we don't have, making space for what it here now.
As I got closer to work I felt good. The man who called me a tramp was just a glimmer. I stopped at Stumptown Coffee to get a tea. When I got to the front of the line and prepared to pay, the barista said, "Your drink is on Cole today." Cole, at the other end of the coffee bar is a regular SweatBox student. His generosity smiled on my whole being with that complimentary cup of tea and I felt like everything was going to be okay. I'm going to India and all will be well.