I wondered what I could write about during the first week of the 28-day blogging experience and how to express my appreciation of the people, places, and things I have been exposed to because of my Vipassana practice. What could I write about to describe how my meditation practice has impacted my life? By the way the impact has been immeasurable.
Then I had an experience that represented how much my practice has opened me up to being connected to others. The ability to notice our similarities and not be focused on our differences.
As I was walking yesterday evening, I noticed an older man (probably in his 70’s but looking older than his age), scantily dressed in the freezing cold weather, no gloves, scarf or hat, a small plastic bag in one hand and his cane hanging in the other, his thin red sweatpants were too big on his very skinny frame, his coat worn and dirty, his face pained with the effort of walking. He was leaning up against the building to use as support. His progress was slow and his steps cautious and labored. It appeared that he may have had a stroke in the past causing the extreme difficulty in walking. It was emotionally painful to watch him shuffling his feet. It was absolutely freezing out, the wind gusts from the Hudson River were almost blowing him over. I had a hat and my hood to protect me; I had warm and fuzzy gloves, a scarf, winter boots and a significant winter coat.
I asked if I could be of assistance, he smiled, looked very surprised to have a stranger approach and said yes. I smiled and we introduced ourselves, I took Robert’s arm. We walked for a little more than 20 minutes to go a very short distance of less than one city block. We talked about where we each grew up. I asked why he was out in this prohibitive weather, he had to go to the store he shared. We talked about my silly fake fur rimmed hat that looked like it was from a James Bond movie as part of a costume for a stereotypical portrayal of a Russian spy. We laughed. It was physically hard not to hug him, to put my arm around him to somehow protect him from the weather or perhaps from aging and illness. We parted in his lobby but not until he tried on my hat, which I “forgot” to take on my way out when saying goodbye.
I walked the rest of the block and was accosted by two equally overwhelming things, tears streaming down my face uncontrollably and my feeling of connectedness to Robert. I may have left him with a hat but he has left me with something much, much more. Thank you Robert for sharing your time with me last evening. I will be keeping my eye out for my hat so perchance our lives might intersect once again. It was the dissolution of the distance between us— two complete strangers who joined for a moment I will never forget.
– Beth D. Weinstein , NYC