Monday, August 31, 2009

You don't have to know what to do

Last night, I opened the new issue of Yoga Journal and began reading the editor's little essay. (If you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a magazine junky - not an out of control, can't see my floor because of the piles magazine junky, but I do like my mags.) Anyway, the editor wrote about an experience she had while driving. She came across a wounded bird, and thought to herself "I don't know what to do with a wounded bird." But she stopped anyway, and as she got out of the car, another car came along and she waved the driver down. The woman in the car got out, and the editor said "Do you know what to do?" And the other woman picked up the bird, said "yes," and got back into the car with the bird tucked in her coat.

What was most interesting about this story was the editor pointed out that we don't need to know what to do in order to be of service. We can step in and offer ourselves as we are, and that in itself might be enough to bring about the wisdom the situation is calling for.

So, what a surprise it was to be on my bicycle this morning, not twelve hours after reading that story, and find myself in a similar situation. Almost exact actually. I started crossing a busy street near my apartment, and passed a little bird that was parked just far enough into the road to be in danger. The bird should have flown off - I was definitely that close to it in passing. But it didn't. And instantly, I thought of the editor's story.

I got off my bicycle and looked down the road. A truck was coming. I didn't know what to do, so I stood there and watched the truck go past, missing the bird. Then I looked again, and saw nothing coming on either side. So, I started toward the bird, still not knowing what the best course of action was. I stuck my hand out fairly close to the bird, and it twitched a bit. I leaned in a little closer, not enough to get bit, but almost. And to my surprise, the bird took off into a tree along the street. Getting out of the street, I saw the traffic coming again.

You don't have to know what to do to be of service to others.


Jennifer Campaniolo said...

Hi Nathan,

This is such a nice story. I think it's not a coincidence that you spotted the bird after reading the editor's essay. I think we don't stop and notice these things until we're reminded, until we're "woken up" so to speak.

I get lots of free Mind, Body Soul and Buddhist magazines at work. I find I don't have time to read them all, but I try to read Shambhala Sun, at least.

Take care,

Nathan said...

Hi Jennifer,

Thank you for the book recommendation. And yeah, I'd agree it seemed a little too "in line" to just be a coincidence.


ZenDotStudio said...

I love this little story. Such a good reminder. We have this weird assumption most often that if we don't know what to do then we shouldn't get involved. We somehow imagine we should always know what to do and forget that there is magic in the "just doing". That is where the freedom and power lie.

And yes I agree with Jen this was no coincidence, simply an illustration of the truth for you. As my Zen teacher used to say if something happened to someone (especially disturbing things) "this was for you."