The superpower of pre-emptive hugs.
I want to say something, except I don’t know what exactly, about two particularly uncanny and fortuitous hugs.
Late Thursday night Kaari contacted me, saying she suspected I needed hugs, and I liked how she acted on this thought, even though I wasn’t sure what this was about.
The next morning I ran into Carrie, a woman I know in a very casual way, and she came right up to me and said, “Honey, could you use a hug right now?”, which is not a thing that usually happens between us, and I said yes, even though, again, there wasn’t any particular sense of why this was important.
A couple hours later I arrived home to two pieces of very painful news, the suicide of a loved-by-me former student of mine, and a work-related situation/challenge which will require all of my presence, grace, open-heart-of-love-and-courage to meet.
So it turned out well that I’d been pre-hugged.
Thank you, powers that be, for setting me up with advance hugs. For the superpower of Uncanny and Fortuitous Hugs. The superpower of high-accuracy pre-emptive sweetness. The superpower of what I need is offered to me before I even know that I need it.
I’d like more of that. For everyone.
It doesn’t have to be hugs, though hugs are awesome. Hugs are just one possible form of administering love.
What I mean is this:
The beautiful thing that happens when what I need is immediately and readily available for me.
Everything lining up, constellations and configurations.
I’ve thought, for a very long time, that there is no greater grace (for what is a superpower after all if not a moment of Grace) than having what you need in that moment of deep need.
Except here is something even more amazing.
The thing you need showing up before you need it, as if to say, “my love, you are so held, everything is ready for you, whatever you go through, you have everything you need.”
May we all receive what we need. Even, maybe especially, if it’s not what we think.
May we all receive what we need when we need it, and maybe even before that.
May we all have the wisdom to see with clear eyes, so that we don’t miss these moments of receiving, or how beautiful they are.
Last week I witnessed a horrible accident. A woman crossing the street was hit by a car turning the corner.
She was carrying a bag of groceries, and it went into the air, impossibly high, in a slow motion arc, bananas landing on top of a car, a loaf of bread bouncing into the road.
She hit the ground, and then everything kind of stopped.
Pausing to notice miracles.
I do not wish in any way to diminish the horror of this moment, this awful experience, the agonizing pain this woman was in, and whatever she is dealing with now, if she made it through.
The way she was hit and the way she fell, for sure there was serious head trauma, probably a broken hip, maybe a spine injury. So when I talk about the miracles, please know that I am also breathing endless love for the unbelievable pain in this, for the tragedy of this, everything this means for her, for the people in her life, for the person who drove into her.
I want to pause, and I want to breathe in the miracles because that’s what I want to remember.
Not just her palpable suffering. Not just the helplessness of watching, how quickly she went into shock, the way her face contorted, her body beginning to spasm, reminding me instantly of the pumpkin cat. I want to think about the miracles.
Let’s breathe in the miracles. Let’s breathe in appreciation for the miracles.
Let’s breathe in the miracles.
Miracle. All the cars in the area stopped. No one honked. No one was impatient.
Miracle. The car that was closest to the scene had a license plate that said YOGA RX, and a trim dark-haired woman emerged briskly. She was calm, steady, grounded, knew exactly what to do. She called it in, she brought blankets, she brought steadiness.
Miracle.The guy from the car that hit the woman (not sure if he was driver or passenger) was on the ground, crouching next to her, holding her hand, saying the things that need to be said in a moment when someone needs love and presence. Not freaking out. Not making the moment about him. Just being with her.
Miracle. The ambulance arrived unbelievably quickly. Maybe five minutes? If that?
And Richard and I were witnessing, breathing peacefulness, glowing steadiness and love. Going right into heart-love. Not questioning that this was the right thing to do, the only thing to do. Committed to it with full presence. We got to be part of the miracles.
Six years ago, with the pumpkin cat, I wasn’t able to do that. I’ve been working on these skills since then.
I don’t know why this horrible thing happened, and I suspect that why is the wrong question anyway.
I do know that this woman had so many miracles showing up for her in the moment when she needed them, as if we were all drawn in to this constellation for this moment.
The centered, capable yoga therapist. The compassionate young man who didn’t fall apart but sat down on the ground and took her hand. The world’s speediest ambulance. The busy city street that somehow suddenly only contained people who were okay with not being in a hurry. As if the entire street suddenly remembered together that This Timing Is Right Timing and whenever we get there is when we get there.
And then me and Richard, two calm, quiet, loving-hearted people who know how to turn inward and become conduits for qualities. We were there, calling on peacefulness, calling on strength, calling in the allies of this moment, holding the strong edges of the circle.
We were called into a moment, or at least that’s how it felt, and we were able to do the thing we know how to do for that moment, in that moment.
Six years ago I might have second-guessed all of this, gone into my head, worried that everything I was doing was wrong, not helpful, wished I was the kind of person who could help in more obvious ways, gone into shock, become lost in my own pain.
Now I can be the person who channels peacefulness.
I know where my skills are, I know where I am needed, I know where I do my best work, where I can truly contribute and be of service. From the edge of the circle.
I know when I am being called on, called in.
Speaking of unlikely angels.
When my little brother was five, he had appendicitis. It was terrifying, and he was tiny and fragile, he spent a lot of time in the hospital and an even longer time recovering.
I have this memory of being on a bus in Jerusalem, and he was in so much pain, the bus driver taking us on this mad rush through the streets so that we’d get where we needed quickly. The bus driver said something to my mother, something funny or comforting or sweet, I can’t remember what.
And later my mother said the bus driver had been an angel. Like, an actual angel.
For a lot of years I thought that was kind of a crazy thing to say, except now I know what she meant.
Actually, that isn’t true. I have no idea what she meant. I know what it means to me. The bus driver was in the configuration of people who were able to bring sweetness to a moment that required sweetness.
It’s not that he was an angel. It was that in that moment he had the option of being the angel when that was needed, and he stepped up.
Sometimes you gotta be the angel. Sometimes you get to be the angel.
It doesn’t mean you don’t still have your problems, your challenges, your patterns. It just means you say yes to being the conduit of comfort, kindness, compassion, humor, whatever qualities are needed.
It always hurts when a former student commits suicide. I have my own stuff around this too.
My work, in many ways, exists for meeting pain.
Meeting pain, allowing pain, making room for pain, softening pain, listening to pain, understanding pain, undoing pain, making safety for pain, rewriting pain, revealing and receiving the treasures that come from experiences of pain, accessing truth-love in times of pain.
So yeah, my work naturally draws people who have pain, who are or have been in the dark places.
This means we lose some people. And it hurts like hell. This is the second time this year, and man, it’s just hard.
I know the dark places.
I wouldn’t be able to do this work I’ve been doing for the past nine years if I weren’t intimately familiar with them.
I know the dark places and I know the lies that live there. I remember the blankness.
I have mapped the territories of grief and of emptiness, of pure fear, and of the Nothing. I am not afraid of these places anymore, though for many years the dread of returning to them was my constant companion.
If I could whisper truth-love to all the hurting people, if I thought truth-love had a chance of landing, I might say this:
Even in the darkest places, you still get to be in someone else’s constellation.
You get to show up when you’re called and be someone else’s comfort, someone else’s moment of treasure, someone else’s moment of light, their reminder of truth-love.
And there are people who are ready and waiting to come into your constellations, to glow peacefulness and love for you, to hold the edges of the circle, to stand steady with lanterns as you find your way through the dark. We’re here. Even when you forget. Even when we forget. We’re here.
I know the dark places and I also know that healing and grace come in unexpected moments and unexpected ways.
Sometimes gradually over time. Sometimes swiftly in astonishing moments of opening and releasing. If we’re patient and intentional, maybe both.
Stay with us.
Stay with us.
Everything you are going through is legitimate, it makes sense that things feel this hard, that it seems like it isn’t going to get better. It sucks, it really does. I’m so sorry.
And you are safe, you are held and you are loved, and one day you will taste again and smell springtime and the flame will flicker again in your thank-you heart.
I’m breathing peacefulness for this right now. We all are. There are so many of us. Inhaling, exhaling.
Join in whenever you can.
May we all remember to take care of ourselves, to rest and replenish, to do whatever we need to do to get quiet enough so that these moments of showing up are possible.
May we all have Uncanny and Fortuitous (Consensual) Hugs when we need them, and before we need them. The superpower of everything we need is right here: activate. The superpower of clear seeing: activate.
May we be granted unlikely angels whenever we need them. May we be present and engaged with life so that we can be the unlikely angels when the opportunity arises.
May we fill up on truth-love, pause for sweet red lights, make room for each other, make room for ourselves, listen to our secret desires, notice the vibrancy of color, the sweet smell of the earth, name the things around us until we find our way back to ourselves, so we can join the circle and strengthen the edges.
How we play here. You are invited.
Safe space online is such a rare and precious thing. To make that work, we lovingly commit to two intentional practices: not giving each other advice and not care-taking.
We try to remember that we all have our stuff (pain, fear, doubt, grief, history), and we’re all working on our stuff, each in our own way and our own timing. It’s a process.
The things we are talking about today are not easy. So we tread gently. We don’t make assumptions about anyone else’s experience. We meet ourselves and each other with warmth, patience, presence and love, to the best of our ability.
You are welcome to share things sparked for you, to take some peacefulness (there’s enough), or to breathe peacefulness for everyone who needs extra. And of course you can leave flowers. I love flowers.
Love, as always, to everyone who is a part of this place, including the Beloved Lurkers, quiet passers-by and everyone who reads. Thank you.