Out on my morning walk, I look up and seemingly out of nowhere a pedestrian appears about 50 yards ahead on the sidewalk, walking in the same direction I’m going in.
I am irritated.
This part of the walk is irritating in general, it is a small stretch on a busy six-lane road. I’m only on it for about five minutes, as it connects me from one gated Florida neighborhood to the next, where I walk in little bubbles of peace, (so spoiled) with hardly any traffic at all.
But there she is.
She’s not walking fast enough for me not to gain on her.
If I run, I could pass her by quickly, but it is hot-as-hell and I’m not running. I do not have the right bra on for that.
She’s going almost my pace, but a teensy bit slower. I don’t want to scare her as I come from behind her. I wish she wasn’t there. I either have to slow down, or I have to awkwardly walk beside her at almost the same pace for a while before passing her.
With the social isolation of Covid-19, you’d think I’d welcome seeing another human on the path. Am I getting so used to being alone, I don’t even like people anymore?
Wouldn’t a healthy response to seeing another person be gladness?
But lo, I am not glad.
A spiritual teacher, and I can’t remember who, said something like:
“When you are in traffic, and irritated with the traffic, remember that you too are the traffic.”
I laugh at myself. Here I am, thinking it’s all about me. As if I have more claim to the sidewalk than she does. How very U.S.A. of me.
All this time I’m slowly gaining on her.
Taking a new strategy, I look at her. Like a person, not like someone who is in my way.
She’s preppy. She’s wearing shorts and a polo shirt. She’s got a pony tail. She’s probably about my age. No. Maybe older. Maybe 60.
I ease in with some metta, in my mind:
May you be peaceful and happy.
May you be free from harm.
May you be as healthy and strong as you can be.
May you live your life with ease and well-being.
That felt pretty good. From there, I continue:
May you and everyone you know and love be safe from Covid-19.
May you have the gift of taking many deep breaths today.
She’s now 25 yards ahead, oblivious I am behind her.
From here I can see she’s got brown hair with honey colored highlights.
May your hair come out exactly how you want it, every time you go to a salon.
May you eat delicious and healthy food.
May you feel good in your clothes.
Still gaining on her. No longer irritated.
If you are hurting in any way, may you be consoled.
If you are afraid in any way, may you feel held and supported.
I’m committed now, and on a roll.
May your car never break down!
May you always have health care!
May they never stop making your favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor!
May your inner dialogue be kind.
May you be free.
I’m really gaining on my new friend.
May your day be filled with laughter.
May you never be without a good book.
May you find a good and trustworthy handyman to fix all the things that need fixing in your home at a reasonable price!
I’m ten feet behind her, she glances over her shoulder, notices me, and then, suddenly I’m at my turn, I’m going right, but she’s staying straight. As I head into my neighborhood I look back, thinking,
Bye! Sorry about my attitude earlier!
(Not that you knew anything about it).