MAGICAL MINDFUL MEDS MOMENTS!
An unexpected encounter with a young man in a parking lot offers unexpected mindful medicine and wild synchronicity
By Marcia Singer, MSW, CHt
A loud thunking noise was coming from the parking lot of Shiloh Reginal Park. Again, and again. I turned to see a young man hitting a large tire with what looked like a crowbar, whacking it, over and over, until it fell to the gravel. Then, lifting it up, he would position it to roll slowly until he slugged it again.
I’d come in hopes of quiet to practice singing with my guitar and was seated at a nearby picnic bench. I’d been there about a half hour, and had noticed, on arrival, that someone had beat me to my preferred parking spot. I couldn’t see who, just a fellow busy with his car, trunk open, music playing — sounds destined to become a backdrop to my attempts to listen to myself rehearse. But there was no other good spot for me to play.
The thudding noises though were something else: not just the unpleasant sounds, but the sight of a guy slamming into a tire with a large metal pole. Why?! It was kind of disturbing. A group of picnickers, horses tied close by, were seated around a table in the parking area itself: Were they were bothered or concerned too? Or was it just super-sensitive me?
Sigh. I needed to practice. Turning my back to the disturbance, I did my best to refocus, just attend to my own business. I played several more tunes to the beat of the thunks. But my monkey mind now was wonder if my car was safe, parked maybe thirty feet from the tire-rade. Also, I would have to walk by him, to get into my car to leave.
I didn’t like being on the fence, torn between focusing on the weird parking lot activity –alternately annoyed or fascinated — or my music. Being a mindfulness practitioner, I knew I must choose what’s next, consciously. Sh-t or get off the pot?
It was also true that I’d been rehearsing about an hour, my fingers were tired, on top of the intrusive noise. Or should I admit, sounds I couldn’t either block out or simply incorporate into my experience; i.e., be present with it.
I needed to go.
As I approached my car, the young man saw me (did he smile?) I felt obliged to comment, say something. Without blaming him exactly for ruining my experience (I was willing to be responsible for my own feelings), I began telling him what my experience was, that having to hear the sounds of and witness the sight of him whaling away at the tire was for me, an older woman, alone in the park –with my car so close by –intimidating. Most unpleasant.
“Oh, it’s just Play, I’m just playing!” he urged with a disarming sincerity and curiosity. I was not convinced. We began a conversation, one that would go on for a half hour or more, to our mutual surprise — and thorough delight. I Turns out, he was working on getting back in shape, strength training. The gym was distracting he said from his preferred meditative orientation to his training, Plus, being outdoors in Nature was sweet too. I’d had a similar experience, mentioned “mindfulness” challenges, to which he enthusiastically jumped in. All of the sudden, we were two travelers on a very similar spiritual path, if in different decades of practice. My new friend told me he was actively listening to spiritual teachers online, current and past, and was currently drawn to Zen, in part, for its connection with the natural world.
Delightful. He had so many great questions for me: Who did I study with? What practices did I follow? I used examples to answer, including my having gotten disturbed by his noisy activity in the lot. And in doing so, I was gaining more clarity about it, release of any worry or animosity, and upping my chances for a more even response to youthful testosterone. I was also able to instruct him about how to use the gym to hone his mindfulness skills — like me trying to sing and play against the noise he had been making, lol. He grinned, and noted that he wasn’t able yet. I felt sure he will be, even as he dared another request: tell him what my favorite go-to practice might be, for daily living?
I chose the S.T.O.P basic MBSR technique, since it can be useful for virtually anything. How special for me, feeling this young man’s reverence and enthusiasm for our shared soulful enterprises and for my years of experience. Gosh, he even liked my music, could tell I “had heart.” I was touched to be honored for my age, and acknowledged for my talents, skills and wisdom. And to be thanked so fully for taking time to answer his many questions. Just the medicine I personally was needing lately.
“I love doing this, teaching,” I told him, “as much as learning, discovering how Things Work. “
We agreed it’s a pleasure to share openly our unique gifts, and that the world would be a better place with more of this kind of connection happening.
I wondered if he might ever have read my column in the Gazette? He said he would be sure to connect those dots next issue, stay in touch. His name, I asked? “Edmahn.”
“I’m Marcia,” I said.
I fished out a business card with my contact info, and parted saying, “Thank you, Edmahn, for making all that noise!” Without it, we never would have met!
Or if I had not mustered the courage to speak to him.
Or if he had not been gracious enough to listen to me, and explain.
Or if ‘Spirit’ didn’t Work in Mysterious Ways to bless us again and again. If we let It. Hey, what was the likelihood of our meeting, and having this incredible exchange? Even wanting the same parking space and shade trees?