Posted by Amanda Gray on March 8, 2013
While I’m still experiencing a general malaise toward creative writing, inspiration is still full blast for making short videos. I collaborated with a local band to create a music video, which then spawned three full versions, as I experimented with my new editing program, Sony Vegas. It’s about a light years advantage over the Win XP Movie Maker I was using before! I took some film at my birthday party in October and created a promo for the restaurant. And, recently, as I reviewed my last video blog, posted here about a year ago; and attempted to make another, which turned out poorly; I was inspired with a little story that I could easily perform and film myself. I dressed up, arranged scenes, filmed for a day, and now I’m into the, rather complex, edit, which is proving a delightful challenge! I look forward to posting the finished product here soon. Wait ’til you see! The project uses SO many of my skills and interests – I truly never imagined they could be combined into such a perfect package of unlimited JOY!
Today, I’m inspired to share three experiences from my visit to San Francisco at the end of November 2012. They were three lovely little miracles!
1) On my first day in San Francisco, I left my hostel at Fort Mason and wandered down to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was such a beautiful, sunny day and there were endless moments to capture on my new handycam. Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island were in the distance, and boats and swimmers were in the foreground. As I travelled along the waters edge, looking for my next vision of loveliness to put on film, I heard quick footsteps behind me. A thought came up in my mind, “He’s going to snatch my bag off my shoulder.” I turned quickly and looked the man full in the eye. “You better not be thinking what I think you’re thinking,” I chastised him in thought alone. He stopped suddenly and his face widened with shock. I’d evidently caught him at something. There was a short, narrow cement wall along the sidewalk near him, and he sat down, like a little boy who’s just been smacked. I paused, with my hand shading my eyes, pretending to look over the water, but keeping an eye on him, and thinking, “No, no punishment. I don’t need to punish you.” After a moment, the man stood up. I knew that all notions of theft had left him, and he simply passed behind me and carried on up the hill.
What’s especially interesting about this experience is that it confirms a specific lesson for me. Throughout my life, I had a terrible fear of danger coming up from behind. It was a common theme when I was at the monastery in Utah: mice attacking from behind my head, curtains being bumped into me by the wind, a bee stinging the back of my neck, etc. For me, it was like death was always lurking behind my right shoulder. At one point, I realized that even though I believed that my vision was limited by a body – with a front and a back, and one side of which is unprotected and vulnerable – spirit could NOT be limited this way. This incident proved that spirit could, indeed, watch my back. Wow!
2) The next day, when I left the hostel at Fort Mason, I encountered another man on the street. This guy was old and dirty, and loud and shouting. As I passed him, he said something derogatory about tourists. I paid him no mind. As I got to the bus stop, about 15 yards away, I turned my luggage to face him. Although his shouting did make me feel intimidated, I thought, “I’m not afraid of you.” My energy became defensive. “No,” I told myself, “Not to defend. Not to challenge him. But to be peaceful with him.” And so, then I was. A young man pulled up on my left side. He had a bicycle like mine at home, so I struck up a conversation with him. All the while, the loud street person was coming closer, trying to demand our attention. Some buses arrived on the street to my right, and one of them was mine. It was at that point that I noticed the street person had gotten quite close and I had to pass him directly to board the bus. Yet, I was completely unfazed – still totally secure and unafraid. Without incident, I boarded my bus, sat at the front, and watched placidly as the man shouted at me from behind the closed door.
A few days later, at the Adyashanti Retreat at Asilomar, Adya talked about a Buddhist deity called Manjushri. With a delicate hand, Manjushri wields a
fiery sword of truth and cuts illusion clean away. This was the perfect description of my experience with the man on Fisherman’s Wharf and the man at the bus stop. What beautiful miracles provided to heal a couple of my most basic fears!
3) After the Adya retreat, I met a fellow that I only knew from Facebook. Ben struck me as an “enlightened” type, so I trusted, as I made arrangements to meet him, that it was by divine appointment. And it sure was! I expected, at first, because I was a dim-witted tourist, that he would travel downtown to meet me, but he defined such careful directions to Berkely, I decided on the adventure to get to his neighborhood.
First, I was misdirected by the clerk at the hostel, who said it would only take about 10 minutes on the BART. Wrong, because it was a weekend. Anyway, as I contemplated the system map at Powell station, a lovely girl, named Irene, asked where I wanted to go. She told me that I’d have to change trains to get to Berkely, but that she could show me where because she was going to the same stop. We travelled together and chatted. She even walked me all the way to my meeting place. By this time, I was more than 25 minutes late and was worried that my friend would already have given up on me. But he was there! (Late, himself too, as I found out later.)
“Bye, Irene. Thank you!” I waved, as my sweet BART gift carried on to her yoga class.
Ben and I fell right into step, electric essays filling the air between us as we strolled around Berkely. Honestly, I remember very little of the neighborhood because I was so engrossed in our exchange. We had smoothies and encountered a friendly squirrel. We met friends of his, shared an umbrella as we shared philosophy, and walked innumerable blocks. Eventually, we sat at a pizza place and shared a mushroom pizza. Our conversation slowed. I felt slightly awkward then, and breathless. I searched for something to say… but he tapped my hands on the outer edge of the table, “Stay with me,” he urged. My mind was tilting at an odd angle, but I righted it, and then stayed. Still. …and then gentle laughter bubbled up from within. His face filled with delight! We stayed together like that for a while, laughing and looking at this new, open place in our mind.
“It’s not even ‘nothing’,” I noticed.
He exclaimed, “Yes! Music to my ears!!”
“It’s just the laughter.”
On our way back to Berkely station, a blind woman asked us to help her cross the street. Ben took one side and I took the other. It was like the greatest joy in my life to be with that woman crossing the street in that moment. She thanked us for helping her and Ben thanked her for asking us to help.
As she carried on, I laughed and hugged Ben, “That’s IT too!” I cried, “It’s SO wonderful! Thank you!”
“Well, you did it.”
“Yeah. I guess I did.”
By divine appointment. Indeed. I now call it our “Mystic Pizza” moment. Wonderous, even as I remember.
God bless you all, readers.
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