Last Friday, I walked out of my apartment to blood. A man ran down the street clutching his arm yelling after a taxi. His eyes were glazed, his striped shirt matted to his sweat soaked skin. Instinct kicked in. My friend called the police while I ran after him into the video rental store. Red raindrops covered the white linoleum floor. In broken Spanish, I told him to wash the cut, put pressure on it, call his family. High on adrenaline and worry, we listened to Mauricio’s story. A customer came to rent a DVD. At the counter, he took out a knife and pistol. Video stores don’t keep much cash, so Mauricio did not comply. In the scuffle, he was sliced deep before the robber ran off into a taxi( clearly in on the deal).
Moments earlier, I had messaged my friend that I didn’t want to walk to Foch and preferred to get a ride if possible. So I was meant to be there, at that exact moment, to see the blood. It is not the first time nor will it be the last.
In these pivotal moments when a fellow human lost faith in humanity, in the minuscule seconds that followed, precious to shaping future beliefs, I am grateful for good.
I am grateful for blood. If I did not know about blood, I would not know the complexity of love. I would not know the sound of diamond sharp scissors slicing the air when thrown, rivlets of red escaping skin, metallic smell of fear permeating pores. I remember the shattered child carried out by her grandfather. I remember listening to dad scold mom for her temper. The irony. If I did not know of blood, I would have never found my purpose in healing through Lovingkindness.
I am grateful for snow. I remember the barefooted girl who had never been kissed, running away from home, into the whiteness. Comforted by cold, for the goosebumps were far kinder than the madness of fists, kicks, words inflicted onto 100% my body for a 75% percentile PSAT number. 75, the numbers engraved into my scars, fearing tests of aptitude, even years later. If I did not know of snow, then I wouldn’t understand my students. The paralysis, the amygdala freeze, the somber eyes, the exhaustion you hid from your teachers, because you were really glad to be out of the house, up until the moment when the hard work does nothing against the unrealistic demand of perfection.
So I make sure my students know, that the four walls covered in posters of future civilizations and dream islands, serve as far more than just four walls. With me, they are safe.
I am grateful for sorrow. When you have to say goodbye to anyone you love, it’s hard to escape the nagging feeling you could’ve, should’ve, would’ve done something different. The questions that keep you up at night: am I the fool? How could I let this happen? You search for pieces of an invisible puzzle.
If I did not know of sorrow, I would not know of acceptance.
The freedom of letting go. The astute talent to just breathe. He broke your heart. She broke your heart. You broke each other. You loved each other once. You may never talk to each other again. Till choice comes to the rescue. The choice to change. To grow. The gift of transformation. You have another turn in this roulette of life. YOU, lucky soul, are still in the game with blood in your veins. So play with integrity.
I am grateful for sorrow. 7 years ago, on Christmas Eve, I learned of unconditional love. In an utterly private moment, which I had no right or intention to witness, I stumbled upon the spiritual. I watched the gentle hands of a husband washing the greying coiff of his best friend, mother of his children, love of his life, four days before death swept away her suffering. Sorrow taught me unconditional love.
Once you know, you’ll never settle for less. Nunca.