Sunday, June 9, 2013

Zen and the Serendipity of a Bike Ride

Today was one of those very Zen days.  That’s the only way I can describe it.

I’ve been angry at the Universe for a while.  I have not been moving with the flow of life, just shaking my fist in frustration at many, many things, digging my heels in, holding my hands over my ears (figuratively speaking) while telling my spirit guides to go….  Well, anyway, I’ve not been in a very good place.

During my yoga this morning, though, I decided to focus on opening up to love and whatever else the Universe wanted to bring me in the course of the day, be it dark or light, yin or yang.  And this is what happened….

After breakfast I went for a bike ride along the designated bike path that runs from Claremont to Fontana.  I jumped on at Grove, and while waiting for a traffic signal in Rancho Cucamonga, several other cyclists stopped as well, everyone saying good morning to everyone else as we waited for the light to change so we could cross.  When it did, I had made it to the other side when I heard a voice behind me.

“Ms. Murphy?”

I slowed my bike and a young man caught up.  It was Kendall.  He’d graduated from Upland High in… 2003 or 2004, I think, back when I was still teaching seniors.  He was a star football player, filled with the joy of life, a tiny bit naughty at times, but never disrespectful and always a sweetheart.  He’d been recruited to play football in Utah—until he broke his leg and his world changed forever.  I can’t believe he recognized me in dark glasses and baseball cap, but he did.  And then he made me cry.

After he’d told me about college and how he started his own business, he said:  “Ms. Murphy, thank you.  I never forgot what you taught me in English, and it allowed me to take an Honors English class in college with an emphasis on politics.  The class was a breeze because you taught me how to write an essay.”

Sheesh.  This is what happens when you open yourself up to the Universe; you find yourself standing at the side of a bike trail, trying to dab away the tears and blow your nose discreetly while a young man looks you in the eye and says, ‘You made a difference in my life, and I’ve never forgotten you.  So thank you.’ 

Suddenly in that moment all the angry words of clueless parents, the ever-looming threats of pay cuts, that niggling sense of guilt at never doing quite enough for my students much less my own kids—all that dark mist evaporated—poof—with the warmth of validation.  OK, maybe I have accomplished one or two good things in life.  Yes, yes, I know it’s much more than that, but you don’t hear the tape that is sometimes stuck on a continuous loop in my head.  It’s the bane of us depressive folks, please understand….

Which is why I try to practice wu wei, to simply let life unfold around me without reacting or responding, just appreciating.  When I do, good things happen… and today’s event will carry me along, floating on this current of life, for quite a number of days.