dr carpenter's chair
Awareness of flow has been in the foreground with me for several days. I'd been unconscious that flow occupied my mind as much as it did. A thought might come and go twenty times in a day, but each time it's only once and it's gone. Last week in the grocery store two registers were open and suddenly a rush of full buggies turned up. I was one. Two women were ahead of me with mounded up buggies, the one at the register taking her time unloading her objects one at a time, talking to the cashier, talking to her little girl standing beside her. I reminded emotional mind of patience. I have all day. Relax into the flow. Somebody opened a new register behind where I was standing. I backed up and turned into the opening. A man I'd never seen before was carrying a package of a dozen rolls of paper towels and half a dozen sardine cans. I saw him moving toward the space. He stopped when he saw me swing around and went back to his line with three mounded up carts ahead of him. I called to him, "Hey," a lame thing to say, but I didn't know what else to say. I wanted to catch his attention right now. Mister? No. Dude? No. He looked about my age, somebody who would not take to being called Sir except by a kid, and even then I'd guess from his vibe he'd tell the kid he didn't have to call him Sir. I indicated with a swing of my head for him to go in front of me. The flow of his movement toward the place was in motion before I started my forward motion. I felt like I'd interrupted a flow. He took his place and thanked me. We had a brief exchange, quiet and friendly. A moment. The kind of moment that made me feel rewarded for allowing the flow by merely an open exchange. I ran my items through the line, paid and put the bags in the buggy to carry to the parking lot. I stepped into the open space beyond the register aisle and saw a Latin guy on my right pushing his buggy toward the door. He stopped when he saw me start out of my aisle. Again, I felt like I'd interrupted a flow. I stopped and indicated to him with a hand gesture to go ahead. His face lit up, he nodded gratitude and went on.
In neither case was I motivated by wanting to appear to be a nice guy. Both times I felt I had stepped into a flow that was already in motion. I stopped and honored the flow. I felt like it would be arrogant to break the flow and jump in. The first guy was about my age with a long pony tail and a straight-faced stillness that suggested he had spent some time in prison. Very much an inward individual. It was the first thing I saw in him. I regarded him with respect as I do everyone I know or meet experienced in the American penal system. Another day when I was not aware of the flow, I probably would have taken my place as my right--I'm next. I don't know. It caught my attention because I don't recall ever having such an awareness of flow. I feel it when I'm writing and feel it at home. I feel it in traffic. In both moments I saw the flow. Perhaps I had come from standing in place for awhile talking to myself about patience. Slow down. I've seen these logjams happen at the grocery store many times. I walk in the door, one or two registers are open, nobody in sight. In the aisles I see several people and others start filing in the door. I go to the register and half a dozen people are ahead of me. Right away they open two more registers and the flow moves again. I turn around, somebody is in motion toward the open aisle with just a few items. Another part of the flow is I could never step in front of somebody carrying so little without inviting them to take a place ahead of me. I could not stand there and unload my buggy with someone waiting behind me with a few items. It's an awareness of flow I'd not noticed before as such. I felt like the second one automatically deferred to white man with white hair, the sign of a hateful emeffer to an immigrant. I felt like the gratitude on his face, in his eyes, was somewhat out of proportion to my gesture, but I reminded self that white men with white hair seldom say, After you, to a Mexican.
across the road
Another part of my flow was realizing the people from south of the border came here to work their asses off for a little bit of pay to send cash home to mama, wife and kids, who have nothing otherwise. They get treated like shit, taken advantage of, ignored as though nonexistent. They've learned how to live among white people; stay quiet and out of sight. The Latin people have that minority consciousness about them; look out for white people, learn how to live with being invisible, do your best not to become a target, be passive with law enforcement, stay in your trailer park and watch tv like white people. The tiny Latin population here lives inward, among themselves. I have a heart full of respect for these people doing the best they can to get by in a world hostile to them, good people lured by fairy tales about democracy and money seen on tv. I feel sorrow for them when I realize they are here because they can't make a living where they came from. They have no place there and they have no place here. I've seen that the people who hire them to do labor jobs often prefer their work performance to work by local boys. I can think of two, and know there are more, businesses that hire only Latinos for their work ethic and attention to detail. The best restaurants are the Latin restaurants that few Anglos go to. The big Mexican restaurant, Mis Arados, is rated by a great many the best restaurant in Sparta. The Latins are good people. I feel like they make a good addition to life here. In my association with the Alleghany Planning Committee, we visit the Head Start program in Sparta once a year. The kids are charming and the women working with them care about them with a motherly tenderness. I've noticed again and again the Latin kids had happy round faces, happy eyes, were animated and well behaved. The white kids were drawn, looked depressed, cheerless, some had dark around the eyes from crying in the night. All are kids of parents who can't afford daycare prices. The white parents were poor because they were messed up on crystal meth and whatever else was going around. What money they score at minimum wage jobs goes to their high to assuage their misery. They need help like their kids need help.
quan yin on cloud mountain
I have seen in this lifetime the venality in the American character grow with an anti-compassionate, zero tolerance zeal that brings something to mind I heard Bill Maher say, "I'm paranoid about the cops, and I'm white." This is a relatively new social phenomenon, white people paranoid about the cops like the black people, though the black people laugh at the white paranoia. They know that nobody white knows what it's like to be paranoid about cops. The Central American man in the grocery store caught my attention with his big smile of gratitude. I wondered what it was that made him appear so spontaneously grateful. The sparkle in his eyes rang in my head the words, random acts of kindness. Such a tiny gesture on my part. Each moment received with open gratitude. For my part, I just read a flow and payed attention to it. I could call them acts of kindness, but at the moment they weren't acts of anything but letting somebody go by who was already in motion. It turned out I allowed them their flow. I doubt either one was consciously aware of the flow as I was at the moment, but they felt it unawares. My reward, a momentary spontaneous greeting from who the other person is, open, unguarded. I think of it a spiritual connection, the god in me greets the god in you. My part of it amounted to a few seconds. Those seconds stayed with me, somehow having a light around them as important moments. It makes me want to become more aware of my own flow in relation to the the flows I am sometimes involved in, sometimes passing through. Awareness of flow has to do with allowing, not projecting my own wants or expectations onto the moment. It seems like awareness of flow comes forward when ego is not demanding so much attention. When I saw two buggies ahead of me piled high, I talked to emotional self: settle down, patience, relax, you're not late for anything, and if you can't stand still for a few minutes, you need help. I turned around in a relaxed mind, able to feel the flow for not being in a hurry, and had two spiritual experiences, one after the other, solely from reading lines of flow and honoring the flow. It became two spontaneous random acts of kindness without assessing the gestures kind or any more something to notice than walking from one spot on the floor to another. It just happened.