Just Because I’m a Spoiled Middle Class White Girl Doesn’t Mean I Have to Act Like One.

Via on Jun 26, 2011

Yoga Lessons from the Man Living in a Parking Garage.

Full disclosure: I’m ashamed of myself. I’m embarrassed of the way I have acted. I have ignored, snubbed, looked down on, and made people uncomfortable by letting my fear and discomfort take over. Please don’t sit by me. Please don’t approach me. I don’t want to face your reality. I’ll get up and move if you do. I’ll plug my iPod into my ears, hunch my shoulders up, pull up a hood or a scarf, look out the window, walk on by.

I used to be the one my high school friends made fun of for always giving money when asked on the street. When did I stop doing that? When I started to think they were right. When I started to doubt that feeling in my heart that said a couple bucks from me—it didn’t matter what they spent it on—was worth so much more than that to them. When I started to doubt the certainty that below their aggressive front was pain. It began to seem easier to ignore, to walk on by. It began to seem easier to harden.

It’s not. It hurts. Whatever we do to another, we do to ourselves. If we can’t see ourselves in all, we can’t see ourselves at all.

I have some new friends who embody this—who understand and demonstrate the yogic concept of union and Namaste: light in me sees light in you—even though others might not define them as yogis. There are reasons they came into my life.

THE MAN ON THE BUS
The other day I got on the bus and headed to the back row of seats. A man who looked just a few years older than me got on, too, and sat down beside me. He gave me space, sitting in the middle of the two seats beside me, instead of snugging right up. He smelled pretty bad. He had a nice face. I opened my purse, put on my sunglasses, reached in for my iPod. He looked towards my searching hand and asked me something I didn’t hear properly.

“Pardon me?” I asked.

“Do you have a shotgun in there to put me out of my misery?” He replied.

“Oh. Oh. No, I don’t.”

“No, no, I’m sorry. Don’t mind me. I’m the village idiot, thanks for your vote.”

“It’s okay, really.”

“Those are nice sunglasses.”

“Thank you.”

“I like your runners. Do you run in them?”

“Thanks, yup, I do.”

“I just have these ones, Nikes, but they’re comfortable.”

“That’s a good thing. It’s important for them to be comfortable.”

“Sorry if I’m bothering you. Sorry.”

“No, really, it’s okay. Really. You’re not.”

He went on to tell me he was only going to be on the bus for a couple more stops, that he would get off at the internet café where he used the web camera to connect with his sister and niece and nephew. “They worry about me,” he said with a sigh. Then he would find a way to wash his work clothes. He was wearing cotton pants and a Vancouver Canucks T-shirt. After that, he would go home to the parking garage he shared with a few other men and watch a movie. He told me local media had been by recently to interview them. Someone else got on the bus, and came to sit on his other side. He had to squeeze closer to me. “I’m sorry,” he said to me, “just one more stop.” It didn’t matter how many times I told him it was okay. He had been through it all before. I began to feel my heart cracking, tears welling up behind my eyes. I wanted to wrap him in a hug.

WE’RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE HERE. LET’S DO THE WORK
And I began to imagine what it would be like to incite dismay or even disgust by simply getting on a bus. I don’t just take a warm welcome for granted, I unconsciously depend on it. I am spoiled. I am a lucky one. And to varying degrees, so is everyone else on that bus. Everyone else who grimaced, plugging ear buds into their ears, hunching up shoulders, pulling up hoods, looking away. Please don’t sit by me. I don’t want to face your reality. I don’t want to be that way anymore. I don’t want to let fear and ignorance dictate my actions.

I did a Google search when I got home. Vinchenzo’s pregnant wife was killed by a drunk driver five years ago. The pain of being without her is too hard to handle indoors.

There are some of you reading this who already knew that would be his story—or that something like that would be. I’m writing this for those who didn’t. I’m writing this for those who, like me, one day decided it was easier to harden than to feel the pain, or who were taught to be that way. I’m writing this for those who, like me, needed to be reminded that what we do to others we do to ourselves. And that if we can’t see our selves in all, we can’t see our selves at all.

With humble love, and thanks for reading,

Lindsey

About Lindsey Lewis

I’m a yoga teacher, life coach in-training, retreat host, business woman, and entrepreneur. I write, I paint, I draw, I dance. I get outside every day. I challenge myself. I meditate. Riding my cruiser bike along the seawall rocks my world. Being of service is essential. I’m committed to helping the world find their freedom. I believe in love. I believe in the human capacity to evolve, to grow, and to make the world a better place—even if it’s simply through our re-vitalized presence. Let's connect! I'm at Libre Living. Twitter http://twitter.com/lindsey_lewis and Facebook www.facebook.com/lindseyonline. Also, Libre Retreats on Twitter @libreretreats

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14 Responses to “Just Because I’m a Spoiled Middle Class White Girl Doesn’t Mean I Have to Act Like One.”

  1. Scott Robinson YesuDas says:

    Beautiful, Lindsey; thanks for the reminder.

  2. Erica says:

    Yes, Lindsey, thanks so much dor your words of inspiration :)

  3. bindifry says:

    i like the honesty of this. thx

  4. Meryl333 says:

    On the way to the bus I gave a smile and greeting to a very dirty, man limping down the street. He asked for money. I was in a hurry to catch the bus, hesitated as I looked at the bus fare in my hand, then gave it to him. At the bus stop, I took off my backpack and was rummaging around to find more money for the bus when I turn around and see this man limping quickly towards me with his hand in the air. He wanted me to have the money back. He thought it was all I had. I had tears in my eyes then… and now as I think of it. We get more than we give if we can extend ourselves to people who are on the edges of life.

  5. Lindsey Lewis Lindsey_Lewis says:

    oh wow, Meryl333, that is so beautiful. thank you!

  6. Tanya Lee Markul tanya lee markul says:

    Lindsey, this is wonderful. Thank you SO much for sharing. It's absolutely important.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
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  7. Carol Horton Carol Horton says:

    Yes, I've recognize that I've slipped into compassion fatigue with the endless requests for money from street people year after year after year. Time to work harder. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  9. Lindsey Lewis Lindsey_Lewis says:

    Bless you for modelling it daily. You inspire me.

  10. Thanks Lindsey. Your article reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years ago when my daughter, Sarah, was in Cameroon with the Peace Corps. It's called "Sarah's pain":

    “I’ve never loved so deeply or hurt so much.”
    The stuff of romance novels, chick-flicks, and
    Lifetime.
    Except it’s Sarah. In Cameroon.
    It’s Jesus, about to be in Jerusalem.
    Kathy told me. Well, she told Rosie.
    And I heard. And hurt.

    Not the love pain of really seeing others.
    Not Sarah’s pain.
    No, the pain that makes you sick to your
    stomach with each new wave of jealousy.

    Jealous of your own child’s youth.
    Jealous of her courage, strength,
    faith, wisdom, love…such a fierce love.

    But, hopeful. I’m a child too.

    Blessings,

    Jonathan David Mays http://www.facebook.com/jonathandavidmays

  11. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
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  12. [...] Just Because I’m a Spoiled Middle Class White Girl Doesn’t Mean I Have to Act Like One. [...]

  13. [...] Just Because I’m a Spoiled Middle Class White Girl Doesn’t Mean I Have to Act Like One. [...]

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