Wine, Taxis, and Softening

When I was in my early 20’s, a taxi hit me while I was walking down the sidewalk in Greenwich Village. I was a graduate Social Work student at NYU - out with friends having a great time. I had had a few glasses of wine, and I was buzzed. As a result of my relaxed state, when the taxi barreled into me apparently I “gave” with the impact - I didn’t resist. I ended up on the hood of the taxi, and was then thrown back onto the sidewalk when it finally stopped. The ER doc told me that I was incredibly lucky to have been so “relaxed”, as he thought it really helped to minimize my injuries. If I had resisted or tensed up, my suffering would have been much greater. Bad things will happen, and we can’t always be buzzed in order to reduce the pain of the impact. However, we can learn to surrender more, to soften more, and to show up as gracefully as we possibly can in the face of painful situations (or any situation for that matter!). The more intimate we become with this idea that pain is inevitable, the less we will suffer as a result of our pain. Suffering comes as a result of the resistance to the idea that there will be difficult emotions, difficult relationships, physical illness, financial struggle, or crazy fluke accidents. These painful, challenging experiences are the nature of life. So if we can’t control the inevitably of painful experiences, are we able to soften with the impact? And how do we cultivate that ability to be soft in the face of pain, sober? A daily meditation or spiritual practice helps a lot. It helps because it enables us to remember, again and again, that we are OK. That we are just humans having a human experience – which is beautiful sometimes, and downright ugly at other times. We feel this “OK “ feeling by connecting to our breath, which connects us to our bodies, and to the precious moment we are in.

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