Faster Than the Speed of Mind
The explosion rattled my ears, and the last thought was “Not again!?”
There was a sense of humour in that thought, in the midst of the world once again moving faster than mind. A little over a year ago I was a passenger in a car that was hit from behind while waiting at a red light. We all had the same experience, that there was an explosion, and a “long time” after it, during which we wondered what the explosion was – until we realized it was us. By then we had crossed the intersection to the other side; and very fortunately we were not hit by cross-traffic.
Pulling over, we put together in thought and words what had happened, in our apparent absence, yet not. “Ah, yes, we must have been hit from behind.” It’s not that mind is just slow, mind is also after the fact. We do things, and long after we are done, there is mind piping-up, noting the past, and in some instances even claiming that it “decided” to do it.
Back then I still thought I was mind, so there I was, still catching up in thought with what had already happened, feeling shocked by the “time” that “I” had “lost.” The pain in the back of my neck prompted the medics to strap me to a board and haul me to the hospital. Fortunately nothing was broken, and yet after more than a year the resulting bulging disk had still not healed.
But that was all less than a split-second memory because this impact reefed my shoulders, head, and neck backwards as the body immediately contracted and recoiled in a futile attempt to keep it all together. Then the hood of the car hit my back and flung me in the opposite direction, which meant, I knew, wordlessly, that the car was still coming at me. Completely disoriented, I rolled instinctively until I could get my bearings to ensure that I was rolling in the right direction–out of harm.
The scooter shot across two lanes, and once again I was thankful there was no cross traffic. The driver of the car was shocked but unhurt. My legs shook uncontrollably and a short while later, the emergency vehicles began to arrive. Most of the pain seemed the same as the old injury, only aggravated, and the x-rays showed nothing broken. But when the doctor cautiously opened the neck brace and checked my neck, pressing along it, one spot drew a squeal from me, and I said “That was new!” He quickly closed the neck brace, strapping me back in, and ordered a CAT scan.
For the first time there was the thought something could be seriously wrong. Waiting for the test results, I stared in the only direction I could, straight up. Looking at the honeycomb shape of the ceiling light, the beauty of the shape and light grew more and more apparent. Then questions began to arise, “What if I need a cast for a year?” Followed by “What if I never walk again?” The light seemed to grow in intensity and beauty, along with an inner peace. The reply came, “I am okay. And in either case, I can still write and speak.” Mind settled, giving way to knowing. Knowing that nothing matters, and so I’m okay, no matter what.
The CAT scan showed something not quite right, but it was good enough to let me leave, with the advice to get an MRI test done. I walked of the hospital very thankful, and grateful, very happy and blissful.
That night the tingles started in my arm, moving all the way down to my hand, and into my fingers. That was followed by a throbbing and pounding sensation as if circulation was being cut off. The MRI revealed what the symptoms knew: the disk had herniated. And so began again the therapy and healing, and yet there was one thing notably absent, suffering over any of it. It is as always, just this moment, just this therapy, just this pain, just this rest, just this ice, just this heat, just this stretch, just this now. None of it stays the same, it is ever changing, I, notice. And all of this happens within a bigger context. With attention on the infinite context, all is well.
Once again, half a year later, I am back to yoga, and gentle walk-running, and seeing ever more clearly, how life can turn on a dime, in an instant, how every just now is fleeting, precious, and beautiful, how mind is only a tool to be used–not to be used by–and that there is something far greater, always there, for the noticing.