As some now know I have delayed my trip which I intended to start on October 5th, the day after my dad’s birthday. I have a tent and a sleeping bag that will work. But I discovered I really need a better pad to sleep on. I also would really like a digital camera and a set of bicycle panniers.
As a result I have chosen to stay until March or April, when the cold weather breaks. This will give me some time to address a few things around the property and to save up whatever money I can earn for the equipment I would like to get.
But the problem is I needed to leave. I have to get away from the sheltering of my parents and their confining belief systems. I have to find my purpose, my dream, my ideal life course so I can define myself. Because right now I have no dream or purpose, and I don’t know who the hell I am.
So I am searching for local Buddhist monasteries in my area. I hope to find one that will allow me to stay without paying or anything, so that I have a supportive spiritual brotherhood, a sangha I believe it is called, where I can go to meditate, to work through a major issue in my life, and perhaps find some help.
Today I was going to stay home, Rain threatened. I felt too tired to bike. But I also realized fear was at work. Fear of rejection most likely. As well as the simple fact that while I knew I needed to let go of Brittany and My Love I don’t want to. I am at war with myself. Spiritual forward progress is improbable at this point. I have to deal with this. But I can’t do it here at home.
So I forced myself to leave. Bicycling 17 miles to a place listed as the US Oregon Buddhist Monastery, but which had a sign out front saying, “Shu Wei Buddhist Monastery” – something like that.The place was really run down and had a satellite TV dish on the roof. Not promising. I knocked on the door, no response. I was going to stop by again later, but I got a little lost and it was getting dark by the time I passed by again.
On the way to that place however I passed another place with no sign out front, but immaculately tended. It stuck out like a sore thumb. A HUGE statue of I assume Buddha, another of him seated, a lotus flower, golden colored buildings with red roofs, strange text on a large stone. The place had a parking lot with one car in it. This is the place I intend to visit later to see what in the world it is. But I have to admit I feel really uncomfortable there. Like stepping onto an alien planet for me. If you know the mostly gray, predominately American area I live in you know what I mean.
I had to go home another way, and was focused on this task when my reason for this post appeared. I write this down to be sure I will never, ever forget it. Every time I think of it I have this tendency to wish I had stopped. But then I realize that flow, not force is the answer.
Ahead of me I saw someone on a bicycle. They had a white, plastic grocery bag hanging on one side of their handlebars. I was on SE Mill Plain, headed towards the intersection of 164th. I was somewhere on the halfway point between that and 136th, probably not far from Big 5 and the Police station. There is a downhill segment there and one of these housing communities on the right. The sidewalk here is unique, because it slopes down to a yellow studded metal section and then back up.
As I drew closer I saw the cyclist was a female. She had a helmet on. I could not readily determine her age. She appeared young, and because of unhealthy past issues I tend to disregard anyone who appears to be a teenager or younger. I think I was in the mental processes of glancing up, taking in these first impressions, preparing to disregard and look down. As I was looking at her my helmet brushed some tree branches.
Then I she looked at me and smiled. I think that’s how it happened. I can not properly express to you what this smile was like. I could show you a picture but it would not portray it accurately. I am 36 years old and I have never in my life seen such a smile as this. I didn’t just see it, I felt it. I am a little self-conscious. I have very bad teeth because my parents could not afford braces for my brother and I. So I will smile at you, genuinely, but I tend to keep my lips closed, hiding my teeth.
This smile this girl gave me made me, involuntarily, smile hugely back, against years of tendencies to not smile like that. Her smile was bright, warm, open and more. It may have even had a spiritual context behind it. I don’t know. I had no control, I had to smile back, fully and openly.
Her smile also warmed me inside. As I said I felt it. Like someone shone some kind of spotlight inside me. I could feel it minutes after I passed her. I can still feel it, to a somewhat lesser extent, now. My whole being was lightened by this smile. It touched me deep inside.
Not talking about a crush or romance or love here. I think there was love in her smile, but it was a love of life, perhaps a spiritual love. My smile back I think was something else. Like two beings sensing similarities inside. I really think there was a spiritual component to this. But all of it had nothing to do with the smile a man normally gives to a pretty girl. There was none of that human physically sexually driven stuff. More like two souls, two energies deep inside, smiling at each other.
I truly believe that were I to meet someone who was enlightened, or nearly there, their smile would be like that. I am also sure that I have never smiled like that at anyone before, and I am not just talking about it being so wide and open. It was a smile that felt different somehow. I had no control of it either.
I think I tried to label it as simply a fellow cyclist just enjoying being out on a day others would call ugly and enjoying herself. I know I had enjoyed my cycling that day. I was rapidly tiring, but the first half of my trip was an enjoyable experience. Maybe she thought my helmet hitting the branch was funny. I think I tried to label this, to box it up, as someone sharing similar feelings or a humorous event.
The regret that insists on haunting me is that I did not stop and introduce myself. Because now I wish I had. I realize I really want to meet this person. Yet I know I have deep internal issues I should address first. I also know that I should not force this. I could have turned around. I may have been driven by fear and this may be the reason I ultimately did not do so. But I think that was the right decision.
If we are meant to meet and get to know each other then we will and I set an intention simply for that. If it flows for her and I (it has to flow for both of us) in our ideal life courses to encounter each other again then we will. I have set no other intentions. I do not view her at this time as a potential mate. She is someone I simply want to meet, perhaps get to know. I am curious and there are other elements to this I can’t put my finger on. There may have been some sort of connection here.
I also realized, as I pedaled away, that while at first she appeared young (she certainly was on a smaller bike and was small, from what I could tell, in stature) that she may have been much older than I thought. Maybe even as old as myself. I am not sure on this.
There are some people in this world, male and female alike, whose age is hard to determine. I used to be very good at determining the average female’s age. But in the case of these sorts of people, well there is something inside that makes them appear young and beautiful. You could think of it as their youthful, beautiful nature, spirit, essence – leaking out. Just as there are some people who appear older than that really are, and you look at them and their inner ugliness is leaking out. I know that physically I look like a teenager. I don’t think I have the gift of any beautiful nature leaking out. But I do appear younger than I look.
In any case, whoever this young woman is, she is a truly beautiful person, and when I say that about someone I do not refer only to physical beauty, although she certainly had that. Thee are those, and I have seen a few, who have little physical beauty but still appear beautiful because of who they are inside. But this girl, she is someone I would call truly beautiful. But she is also more. I am quite sure I have never met, seen or encountered anyone like her until today.
Some guys may call their girlfriends angels. Some fathers may say that of their little girls. But I would say that of this young woman. I don’t think I have ever laid eyes on any angelic being before. But there was something certainly angelic, beyond human, in this girl. I don’t know that I would call her an angel. I would like to stay away from labeling people. But angelic is the best way I could describe her.
I have to say this certainly enforces my belief that there really is more to the world than I know, than any of us know, no matter how well traveled. There are encounters and events in the lives of some people that defy explanation. I experienced the darker side of that when I was a young man. But today I experienced the spiritual, lighter side, something I never thought I would. I mean if I could travel overseas and meet the Dali Lama perhaps I would then experience something like I did today with this young woman. But the likelihood of that is slim, and there are few, as far as I know, deeply spiritual people in my area. Loving, happy Christians, sure. But everyone I meet, especially now, seems at a certain level.
I feel different than them. Not above, not better, no pride here. It’s as if I have glimpsed things beyond average human experience and am, as a result, no longer average, no longer like others around me, including my own family. I have changed, but the kinds of people I normally encounter around me are the same. Then I encounter this young woman, and she is so completely different, more like me, probably well beyond me. Words fail.
I hope I get to meet her someday, the one who gave me the most beautiful smile I have ever experienced!