don’t know what’s going on with me. I seem to be changing, slowly. Maybe.
The other day, I was third bike in line crossing a road with clearly marked crosswalks. The city, of course, screws things up (and covers their asses) by putting small baby stop signs on the bike side of things (and big yellow crosswalk signs roadside). All I knew was that a car had stopped and the first guy, second guy, then me were crossing, one after another. As I passed, the car let out an angry honk,
I know I shouldn’t have (and kids, don’t do this at home) but I locked up by brakes and skidded around like Akira (come on, you know that famous image). The car was starting to roll when I rode up and bellowed something at him. It then stopped and the window dropped and a positively baby-faced kid looked out at me.
His point of the argument was that we ran the stop sign. I maintained we had the crosswalk. I wish I’d pointed out that he’d yielded to the first two bikes and had indirectly granted me the right of way across a crosswalk. Didn’t think of it then. Rather, we were down to the American exchange of Yankee Stadium culturalisms. Bike two returned and we continued with the pleasantries – he kept carping about the stop sign, and me about the right-of-way of pedestrians in crosswalks. I think he’d probably just started Debate 101 in high school or something. And with that, we rode off. A total waste of time.
Yes, as always, I thought of all sorts of things to say after the fact. My favorite would have been to say, “Fine, you won. Go back and park on the crosswalk. It’s yours.” (maybe next time). But as we rode home, I noticed something about the whole thing.
Usually such exchanges, a rude word, a honk, a bird, all that used to burn in my chest for days. I’d have existential despair from those sorts of things. But a couple of things are now working for me.
First, I’m older. Riding in Orlando toughens you up against the harassment of motorists (did you know our governor made it legal for cars to run over bikes, a sorta vehicular stand-your-ground rule? Sad but true).
Second, I’ve been taking a Zen class every Sunday night. I’ve noticed that since we’ve been going, things that used to bother me really don’t. I was dreading one confrontation in the following week and after a sit, I realized I didn’t need the confirmation, didn’t care, and wouldn’t seek it out.
Third, I’m reading a book about philosophy. While some of it is silly, there are a couple of take aways that, well, I’ve taken away. Things that Nietzsche said. The outlook of the stoics. All that. It’s made me think.
And Fourth, the kid is dead to me. In my world-view, he’s ceased to be. I couldn’t find him if I wanted to. And I don’t. Gone. Dead. Not in my universe.
The important part of this is point Three. Yes, books can give us outlooks we might not have had. (In fact, Four might have come indirectly from Three). But yes, the old me would have fretted and ached and lain in bed at 5am, replaying the moment over and over. Now I’m just making it my weekly blog and getting use out of it.
What else can I say? May the force be with you.