Monday, November 17, 2014

Journey to a Meditation Cushion


Do you have a lighter?

I picked up my pace as I saw two men move toward me with their hands in their jackets. Something wasn’t right. I switched into defensive mode.

Hey, do you have a lighter?

No, I’m sorry.

Stupid nigger!

I continued walking back home from the University of New Mexico library. The two figures -white men- increased their speed to keep up with me. I caught the sneer of one of them and the smirk of the other from my side view. I could hear their breaths flush with each other as looked at their fists jammed into their pockets. They were waiting for my reaction.

The other one laughed as they tailed me down the road. Instead of turning down a side street toward my house, I took a detour along the main road and bright street lights.

I sized them up. If it was just one, I could probably take him down. But there were two of them. And their hands...what was in their pockets? Maybe one of them was the son of a policeman or security guard nearby? Who would believe me vs. them?

I began weighing the risks and rewards of offensive strike vs. defensive silence, keeping them at a safe distance, examining other potential problems, increasing my vigilance in the dark areas of the street, looking at their jackets to make sure nothing leaped out.

Years of training, suspicion, defensive techniques, and cultural calculations ramped up in preparation. I kept them in my side view with a safe distance: far enough away to prevent them from striking me in one lunge, but not too far that they would slip into my blind spot behind my head.

Their laughter and smirks faded into a confused look. Their pace slowed down but they continued trailing me. Finally, a flash of disappointment. The two figures moved off into a different direction.

I looped around my house to make sure they weren’t following me. I walked through the door, dropped my bag, and went to my meditation cushion. I sat down.

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