Saturday, January 24, 2009

Those who can't do...

Maybe it's an American trait, or perhaps everyone below a certain age does it , that attempt at self-perfection. I single out Americans because no other society invests so much money in shrinks and self-help books to help them deal with their consistently falling short. Being in the spiritual world is worse, checking your every thought and action against a checklist made up in a foreign culture thousands of years ago. As a teacher in said world, you are not only hard on yourself, but hard on your students as well. Every breath is a lesson.

So it is that I often take my teachering out onto the streets, as a deputized member of some non-existent morals police. I personally despise rudeness, and despite my strong belief in cultural relativism, I expect everyone to behave within certain guidelines. I'm not the only person who does this. I have friends in Tokyo who can't abide by pushing and shoving onto trains, to the extent that every commute becomes a Greek epic. As a bicycle commuter, what peeves my pet most is people who don't look where they are walking. Some folks simply dart straight out of a shop, some dawdle, others turn corners blindly. (When I become king of this land, my first decree will be that all feet and eyes must point in the same direction.) Cell phones and iPods have made the situation worse in that they've cut off an additional couple senses. When I encounter one of these ambulatory offenders, I will often give their arm a light brush as I pass by on my bike. I realize this is childish. This admittedly seems un-Buddhist, un-Yoga, but my roots stretch back into the deeper soil of the punk ethic of my youth. Besides, I am simply hoping that the person will wake up to the fact that they need to be a little more careful, a little more aware. And who better to teach awareness than a yoga teacher?

So yesterday, I ride up behind two men walking side by side, rudely blocking all but a small part of sidewalk. I pass to the left, brushing my shoulder against one of them, who is startled.

It is only then that I notice he's holding a white and red striped cane.

Today, I am the one who doesn't see.

Clarity. Awareness...

On the turntable: Cicala Mvta, "Deko Boko"

On the nighttable: Leigh Norrie, "Japan: 6000 miles on a Bicycle"


Anonymous said...

I'm sure you apologized and really didn't see. Wonderful piece, I like!

Zach said...

Those that can't do...preach? Lovely learning emerges from the face-first falls we take in the gap between say & do. Great story Teddo.

But, really, what was he doing in YOUR road anyway?

Sheryl said...

Oh, Ted. We all make those kinds of mistakes, and I share your disdain for rudeness and self centered cluelessness. This entry reminds me of the time (in my youth) when I was driving and I noticed a pro-life bumper sticker. Being zealously pro-choice and a hard-core activist for women's rights I drove up beside the offending vehicle and gave him a whopping flip of the bird. It was then that I noticed his white collar. He was a priest. I knew then I was SO going to hell.