My husband Chris and I like to have weekend lunches at a nearby cafe. A couple months ago while driving the mile or so there, someone cut us off in traffic. Chris is generally a patient man, but drivers who push (or completely flaunt) the rules (and laws!) of how to behave on the road set him off.
We had been discussing the website we planned to create--the one we plan to develop around this blog--and our intention was to continue discussing it over lunch. But the tone of the conversation changed mid-route because of someone else's inconsiderate behavior, which, if you've driven lately, you know is about as routine as leaves falling in autumn. Chris had every right to feel belligerent. He started to speed up, as if to catch up with the other guy--and do what? Shake his fist?
I didn't want this to spoil our day, so I said something like, "He probably did what he did because someone cut him off, and the way he got back was doing it to you." And then I added, "You know, I'm really trying to live in a way that opens up possibilities. If I can let another driver in who seems in a big hurry, then I try to let go of the frustration I feel over his arrogance. Maybe it means someone down the road will open up a space for me next time I need it."
I didn't come by this conversion to more gracious living easily. I've always been an aggressive driver, ready to pounce on any opening and suck it up for myself. But on June 13, 2008 (yes, it was a Friday), I had a really bad accident. Sure there were extenuating circumstances--a broken turn light, too many cars, and the other guy going too fast. But insurance-wise, it was my fault. Both cars were totaled. Thankfully, both drivers walked away without a scratch.
But it shook me up big-time. I could hardly drive at all for close to six months. I still plot routes with right turns only whenever possible. The accident slowed me down. The other driver was a young man of about 20. I hope it slowed him down, too.
That day on the way to lunch with Chris, I didn't want to sound preachy, and he didn't take it that way because I prefaced what I said with "Since my accident..." He knows how close he came to losing me, and he's glad it made me think about driving differently. By the time I finished saying what I had to say, we'd arrived at the restaurant and parked. We approached the vestibule entrance at about the same time as a young mother and her daughter, who appeared to be about 4 years old. Chris held the outer door open for them to go in before us. He does this a lot for people; he's a considerate man. The woman thanked him, which often doesn't happen.
Then when she got to the inner door, she stopped and held it open for us. To top it off, she said to her child, "Now we need to hold the door for them because they were kind enough to hold it for us." The little girl nodded and helped her mom hold the door open. This never happens!!
I scoped out a table. Chris ordered the food and brought the tray over. "Can you believe that?" one of us asked. I can't remember who spoke first because we both were so wowed that the universe had just opened up and spoken to us.
There's a web of energy in this world that connects absolutely everything. I believe that. I can't show it to you or prove scientifically that it exists. But I think about it as a sort of huge dynamo--an engine meant to hum along efficiently instead of clank and clog. When we fine-tune ourselves to work in harmony with it, amazing things happen.
Being at my desk each and every day, expecting a poem to come is one of those amazing things. It's like that opening I make in traffic for another car or the door Chris holds open for another person. Who or what comes in is up to the universe. Whether I make time for it and welcome what happens along is up to me.
I think that's what "Piggyback Poetry" (see post below) was telling me. Just after I wrote it, I thought it was a lot of seeming nonsense held together by too many words that begin with "p." But now I see that it carries a deeper idea--that poetry (the "p" word) evolves out of looking at everyday events in a new way and really taking in what comes. It is a sort of piggyback ride. But the catch is, if I'm not here, open to it, nothing comes at all.
Be at your desk.
Be present in your life.
Watch and wait.
The world opens.
Write it down.