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deep down dark

There’s more to yesterday’s post. Soon after standing there and weeping, I felt tired, achy, and cranky. As I continued along Douglas towards Front Street, with a cane signalling “please don’t bump into me,” a young man came towards me, riding a bike on the sidewalk, weaving in and out. Brushing against me, he causes my body to do a painful half-turn.

Next thing he was beside me, accusing me of “assaulting” him in language consisting mostly of fucking this and fucking that. I shouted back, saying that it was him who’d run into me and that sidewalk cycling was unlawful. In quick succession, he spat at my face, I wacked him with a cane, he took off. Mind you, that cane was made of aluminum, hollow and light, something you buy in a drugstore. Still, I’d knowingly hit another human being.

What was that about? In that instance, had he offered resistance or attacked me further, I know I could have hurt him, hit him, punched him, whatever. For a split second, blinding rage from a place of helplessness, fear, and entitlement. A raw reptilian response.

Fortunately his wisdom prevailed: flicking a burning cigarette at me, he rode off. And I stood there, amid a stream of pedestrians, shaking in disbelief. Regained awareness, I felt my heart open and wondered what he’d take away from our encounter. One more asshole adult? One more reason to act like a punk? One more proof that the world is an unsafe place?

As for me, several questions. What happened to compassion? Where is the boundary between loving and hating, between vulnerability and cruelty? Was this a test and how did I fail? What’s the lesson of the day?


13 responses »

  1. My goodness Peter, that is horrible. My hear goes out to you. Are you ok?

  2. yes, Mylene, ok physically and bruised emotionally. thank you for asking.

  3. I’ve been on both ends of that – biking and walking. It’s quite easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment, even after all the practice I have done. I don’t fall prey to it nearly as much as I did in the past, and I’ve seen how the length of the upset is much shorter now. But still, it’s scary when that rage appears, and you’re not sure what’s going to happen.

  4. boatacrosstheriver

    Oh my goodness…I am so sorry for your experience with that troubled young man.

    It’s interesting that you experienced the highest high and the lowest low within moments of each other! In any case, I wouldn’t beat myself up over it. You’re only human and I think most people would have had a much more extreme reaction…

  5. You answered your own questions yesterday when you realized that you are indeed human, and only human. We are not the Dalai Lama, though perhaps he too, might take pause at the actions of your young man. You regained your compassion and all is well.
    Confession: I sometimes fantasize about running over the bicylists who seem to think they own the road. Never would, though. I drive a wide berth around them.

    • all IS well, eamning all is as it is. anbger one moment, serenity the next. each teachers in their own right — just that anger is such a powerful sensation, one that really calls me to pay attention. and to be compassionate towards self. thank you ‘lacharr.’

  6. yes I would agree you are only human….I know I tend to forget that often of myself

  7. There is something unsettling about the whole incident. Having lived in Victoria, I have a picture of this type of downtown bike rider and I won’t say anymore about that. Having had some unsettling customer service phone calls over the last few days I totally get the frustration on your part. I know when my friend the Buddhist nun would help me investigate some “incident” in my life that I found troubling she would always ask “how were you feeling before hand?” In this instance you tell us you were feeling vulnerable, both physically (and emotionally I suspect). Imagine a happy you, perhaps chatting with a friend, whole different end result I bet.

    But always I think there is the opportunity to look more deeply at our human situation without self condemnation. I am a big believer in “we are always doing the best we can and we can do better.” For me it is important to remember “I am not my anger but had an experience of anger.” But I feel that sense of shock and rattle. Perhaps it is a reminder that you need more quiet time to heal, away from the hustle an bustle?? I do remember after I had surgery I was in such a hurry to heal! Much metta to you, Peter.

    • thank you, carole. isn’t that what i well others, “you did what you did — and at that moment it was the ‘best’ you could.” empathy towards self. By not judging ‘anger’ as good/bad I’m able to see it as one of a thousand shades of emotion. It also reminds me of my relative im-perfection, my continual unfolding towards my True Nature. Like a lotus in muddy waters …

  8. Oh Peter, what a shock. From being in such a sublime place to such a hostile and aggresive one in an instant. If it were me I think on reflection I would see it as a lesson about duality. Both of these things exist in this world we live in, and also within ourselves. It is as if you are being shown the two extremes side by side just to emphasize the fact! What happened to compassion? It is in you. Just as the anger is. And I imagine those two things are also in that young man on the bike.
    I admire your ability to reflect and open your heart again so quickly.

    I would also agree with zendotstudio that perhaps more healing time would be a good idea…
    I know from experience that stepping out of a quiet, contained place, where I have been able to be unwell and vulnerable, into the realative harshness of the world is often a huge shock to my system. If what we stepped into was solely the beauty which triggered the epiphany, all would be well… but sadly, the world often requires we put on our protective armour before venturing out!

    You were in a wide open, unguarded state when you had your epiphany… I think you talked about feeling there were no boundaries between you and the outside. A lesson about boundaries? You were vulnerable and I am aware that vulnerability can often attract cruelty – it can be seen or sensed somehow. (Latin vulnerā ( re) to wound)

    A thought comes to me – after a period of illness we talk about recovering. Re-Covering. In order to meet the harsher realities of the outside world we need to cover our vulnerable selves again, to protect the sensitive, tender parts of ourselves from harm.

  9. unsettling to say the least – and i am glad that you are alright, albeit bruised.

    at the end of your post you suggest “was this a test? and how did i fail?” perhaps it was a test and the question is ‘how did i pass?’ an opportunity to reflect, pause and learn from what you glean… as zendot mentions, you had an experience of anger, now an experience of insight and understanding. as you once told me many years ago – each breath, a new beginning

    with metta


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