On my way back from the Wellness and Writing Connections Conference in Atlanta last Friday, I sat on the MARTA (the airport train) and enjoyed a moment of rest. We had spent the day working on how writing and words can foster healing. In my workshop we focused on creating sacred space through imagination and writing so that we can return there again and again in trying times. The doors opened at the next stop and my quiet inner voice broke into my contentment and reverie and said, “move over.” A seat emptied next to the window and another empty seat remained in front of me at a right angle. With the accumulated weariness of the day which included rising at 4:15 a.m. to make a 6:00 a.m. flight, I was too slow. A man equipped with a cell phone at his ear and his luggage in the other hand, lacked a third hand to grab the steel safety bar. His wife settled in next to me and the train lurched forward before the man stumbled backward and clumsily crushed my foot with his thick leather heeled business shoe.
I winced in pain. He mumbled a curt, insincere “sorry” between words in his cell phone. I struggled not to react by making him feel pain in return. Animal instinct drives us to want to inflict a wound for a wound. A quick kick to the shin or a sharp word about his lack of manners might have given an outlet to my pain, but it didn’t coincide with the work I’d been doing all day – or for the past few years. “Do not harm in thought, word or deed,” was a potent lesson echoing back to me from a temple in India where a Western woman literally sat down on my lap and crushed me. There I learned to let go of the ego desire to react by harming. It seemed as if the temple gods stood present to watch my reactions. I took it as a test, inhaled a deep breath and moved silently away. The woman did not apologize.
The lesson came back to me on the Atlanta train. Rise above instinct. Another passenger, a middle-aged man who had observed the scene, saw my pain and reacted with a smile. When I looked back at him with shock, he turned away. What is it about human nature that enjoys the suffering of others? So sitting there with the man who crushed my foot inches away, I worked on my inner state of being. I felt an urge to give him a nasty stare to let him know how much he had hurt me. But my higher wiser self stopped this. “It was an accident,” it reminded me. I too have done this to other people at different times unintentionally. My mind wanted to veer into nasty thoughts and a fit of cursing at him, but my better angel, that divine part of my Self, said “No. Your thoughts will influence the environment. Send love instead.”
Of course the lower mind said, “Is she crazy or what? This is survival.”
“Yes, it is about survival,” my still silent inner voice answered. I thought of humanity and how we must get out of our cycle of wars and revenge. If we continue to inflict a wound for a wound, we will never create peace on earth. Peace must begin with me, right now.
I took a deep breath and lifted my thoughts to my sacred space – an Indian temple where I had felt the bliss of peace that knows no bounds. My feelings of anger, hurt and revenge washed away. I felt better; my foot felt fine now too. No bruise marked my skin. I wished good to the man, a fellow traveler on his way to the airport – and I let go of the pain and forgave him. I didn’t carry the baggage of a grudge onto the flight. My higher self, for this once, won over the instinctual animal nature. This was my small contribution to creating a world at peace last week. Now if I can only continue to repeat it again and again.
copyright: Debra Moffitt, 2008 www.debramoffitt.com