Wednesday, September 27, 2006

For the benefit of all sentient beings

I fell off my bike on Friday morning, or more correctly, my bike and I fell together. I really don't know how it happened or who fell first, my bike or I. I arced around a corner turn I always take onto the smooth bicycle route in front of the UA Main Library. The turn is in the last few hundred yards of the 5-mile ride from home, just before I lock up my bike. I remember how blue the sky was that day and that I stupidly wore my blue wool felt clogs (and I'll tell you why stupidly, below). The next thing I remember, my bicycle and I were laying on the ground together. I looked up at the blue sky, then a passing student stopped to ask if I was alright and righted my water bottle which was hanging out of its cage. I said yes, even though my right arm was in trauma. Actually, I could get up and move quickly because of the trauma. It's when we are first in trauma that we can say everything is alright and do what we need to do, that is, if we aren't dead yet.

So, without analyzing the situation I got my bike over to the grassy area, flipped it over and removed the chain which had lodged between the rear derailleur, the chainstay, and the rear dropout. If I had waited to feel my right arm, I probably couldn't have flipped over my bike and pulled the chain out; I really had to tug hard. Of course, I was wearing a very white linen long sleeved blouse that day. Amazingly, I put the chain back on the middle cog of my freewheel without getting black on anything except my hands which were totally covered. I washed most of the grease off with the slimy green detergent-y hand soap in the library bathroom.
It wasn't 'til I sat down at my usual table in the reference section that I noticed my right arm hurt and that it did not have its normal range of motion. So, now I get a chance to write more with my left hand while the right arm heals. And, thanks to my childhood trampoline & tumbling coach, coach GiLombardi, for teaching me how to fall by rolling, because I am sure I rolled rather than blocking my fall with my outstretched arms (a common way people fall). The body always remembers; my body knows how to fall.
Later, when I was walking with Yuki at sunset time, enjoying the sunset sky and singing, I had my right arm in a sling and was limping down the road. I looked like I had a worse fall than I had had. I was limping because of the blisters from my blue wool felt clogs, meanwhile telling my story to a couple of neighbors and dogs (dogs like stories). About the clogs: wearing wool felt clogs without socks is fine when sitting inside the freezing cold UA Library, but not good at all for walking five miles in the 90-something degree heat while pushing your bike with your non dominant left hand all the way home.


Yesterday, my friend Kalo (not his real name) happened to write me this email message (excerpted):

Hi Nicole,

I hope you're doing well (for the benefit of all sentient beings :-) ).
Last month I visited my native place. I kept a kind of Buddhism-inspired diary (about eight pages). I would like to share it with you, if you have time and energy to read through it and give me your feedback.

Here's my reply:

Hi Kalo,
I would like to read it.... I fell off my bicycle on Friday (for the benefit of all sentient beings! :))
and cannot type well at the moment since my right arm is hurt, so may not be able to respond much for now.

Then Kalo's reply to my reply.

Hi Nicole,

I like your reply (y'know: when we feel that we fall off our bicycles for the benefit of all sentient beings, that is thusness :-).


Those of us who often use the phrase, "for the benefit of all sentient beings" usually intend the phrase for good outcomes, for benefit. But you never know, really, if an event that we consider to be unfortunate might not turn out to be a fortuitous occurrence and vice versa. That's what I feel about this bicycle event (and the streak of phthalo green color on my wrist)....

For the benefit of all sentient beings. :)

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