This is a true story from a long long time ago.
I was on my way to Chinatown one day, searching for red slippers. I had just come from yoga where our teacher had stressed the importance of breath. A long time ago prophets seemed to know what a special concept breathing was and made a point to cover it in the Bible. “God has made the breath to serve as the subtle link between body and soul. The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
So I was trying to remember this, and to be calm….when suddenly this enormous bus was at an awkwardly inappropriate angle in the middle of the road. I quickly forgot my peaceful state and demanded that the bus move. I was in the middle of the road turning left, with cars from the other side now approaching. I carefully tried to slide by the bus within an inch, but something didn’t feel right. Patience. But I had to make a move, so I continued to slide by the bus.
Underneath that bus I saw a woman lying there on the ground. I quickly pulled over to the side of the road and got out. I was wearing paramedic pants which immediately gave me a backstage pass. I started to approach this woman on the ground, this small Chinese woman. I noticed a crowd gathering on the street corner, staring. I was almost at her feet when I watched the bus begin to move. Tons of people at the corner screamed “STOP!” but the bus kept going. It rolled over her stomach and legs, crushing them like pancakes. A yellow fluid (bile) rushed from her belly. A disbursement of blood and other items formed patterns around her. Frightening screams echoed in the streets, penetrating molecules in the air. I was calm. I said to her, “breathe” and took her hand, although directions weren’t necessary because her breath appeared to be on auto~pilot. It was a fast deep constant rush of inhalation, although her legs had been torn apart, and her stomach ripped open and splattered on the pavement, looking like Kung pao chicken. She continued to breathe but I knew she would die and hoped it would be soon. I felt a stillness in the center of hysterics; and it felt natural to help her leave peacefully, with love. As I held her hand, her deep deep breathing continued for another minute, and then it all stopped. The connection broke just as the police and paramedics arrived. They asked me to step to the corner, that they would take over from there. They taped the area, leaving my vehicle inside the accident scene. I walked away to purchase the red slippers I had gone to Chinatown to buy. I attempted to act normal as all citizens in Chinatown became Chinese blurs. Red slippers. She was going home.
I wondered if this woman had led a life that somehow warranted a complete stranger to stop her car and hold her hand while she died. To feel compelled to give her the healing presence of love that I’m sure makes our transition more receptive to the changing circumstances. She must have.
I went to work that afternoon at a telecine facility called company 3. I assisted clients with their requests and no one had guessed that my hands had just held a woman who had her stomach and legs torn apart by a tire wheel. Some clients were impatient, as I had been earlier that day when the bus wouldn’t move. But I had just learned the secret of timing. And patience changes timing. And our timing is what makes up our experiences. Everything we see is because of our timing. Our choices and timing. Time and breath. “The air that I breath and to love you.”