Swept Safely

(originally posted Feb 2, 2013)

broken bottle in bike lane
broken bottle in bike lane

This peaceful moment of typing has been preceded by strong angry thoughts and feelings, oh my! After many seconds of stopping to breathe mindfully I’m feeling solid in the present. Breathe, let go of today’s “close call” with danger. I’m remembering a Thich Nhat Hanh designed watch that has the word “now” replacing numbers on the old-school dial. The time is now. A quarter to now, or half past now, is still now. In all my “nows”, I want to feel safe and happy venturing through daily activities among fellow citizens, especially on local roadways. Could anyone truly want to feel differently? I am a most special and precious being; no more and no less than everyone else. Clearly, all have this desire for safety and happiness at their core.

old bike hanging
bike hanging in the Amsterdam museum ~d nelson

Cycling for some exercise earlier, on a most beautiful, blue and warm gift of a winter day, I met a freshly broken beer bottle in the bike lane. Yesterday this slightly downhill route was clear. Instantaneously my relaxed calm breath turned shallow and hard as I quickly swerved to avoid large and small glass shards. Fortunately the Gatorskin tires offered excellent flat protection as glass pieces extended 30 or more feet along the bike lane. Steering, as I did, out into traffic was quite dangerous, and my good fortune that no cars were zooming by at that moment. So who would intentionally produce actions that threaten the safety of others, my mind quickly wondered? Children, parents, commuters could easily have a flat on the spot or shortly afterwards when the glass works its way in. After some calm breaths I realized that someone likely has hurt feelings or thoughts to produce an action that could injure others. This drop of compassion inside helped me send a wish that the suffering that cause people to hurt others be understood, comforted, held and healed, with kindness, in time. I also recognized my uncertainty on how that broken beer bottle really ended up in the bike lane. Perhaps, instead of intentionally thrown, it just bounced out of the back of a pickup. I don’t know how it got there, just that it was there.

bike lane bottle swept
bike lane bottle swept

Looking deeply I see connections between us and our parents, ancestors, the clouds, sun, earth. Strands woven into the web of life. When one suffers, we all suffer. We can all benefit from acts of kindness. Walking down the street with a smile is infectious, has been my experience. Walking with a scowl can generate fear. If there are hazards in the street near our home, such as glass, we can easily clean, thus create safety and happiness. Pedaling home to fetch a broom and dustpan, then returning to sweep up the glass and a nail I felt a positive action has changed a negative action’s karma. I’m grateful that my dogma did not hit your karma. May you feel happy and safe on and off the roadway; cars, bikes pedestrians, & all critters.

joyfully towards the trail ~d nelson

61 Replies to “Swept Safely”

  1. I’m so greateful for your like on one of my posts. Without it I wouldn’t have found your blog. It’s such a kind, peaceful and compassionate place. With my palms together I bow to you. Thank you. May you always be well and happy,

  2. wonderful inspiring encouraging post, thanks so much david …. we pick up rubbish on the beach every day to help keep it safe for fish and birds … a bit of an overwhelming task, but every small bit helps 🙂 and we are all the One compassionate being

  3. What kind of people do that? One’s that believe it was all put their for them and that the rest should feel privileged that it was. That attitude is being rid of in a hurry now. Starting at the top to the bottom worldwide. Government is going to eliminant selflessness to the point it breaks another’s civil rights, simply starting to do what it should ONLY have done to begin with. Once done government is going to mind it’s business and it’s business only. Big “You are all just privileged to know me” attitude going everywhere will stop.

  4. These kinds of situations really do make me really sad. It’s a good thing you went home to get a dustpan and broom to sweep the glass up, therefore preventing a future accident.

    1. As street sweepers appear infrequently, perhaps I should dedicate a day to cycle around with my big broom and tidy up the bike lanes around town. Wishing you safe and happy rides.

  5. I used to have a friend years ago who said that everyday we should do something kind or helpful without anyone else knowing or seeing us do it. I picked up that practice from her. It is amazing how wonderful I feel everytime I do it. I wish I could thank her for the idea and the positive influence she had on my life, but sadly we lost touch years ago.

  6. I too have compassion for the one who tossed the beer bottle. But I also have made assumptions and judgments I want to release. I simply hope that his or her journey, and all passersby, ended safely. On my walks along our rural road, I often spot beer cans, pick them up, and drop them at the recycle station. I hope that this action helps. I wish I knew what would truly help, though.

    1. Your kind words and actions always humble me, eM. I’ve heard that only saints provide selfless service. The rest of us prefer a little acknowledgment. I’m no saint, for sure. We act in the direction of beauty and often experience a positive continuation. But with complex systems that include inconsiderate pickup trucks and recycled cans, often the best we can do is let go of certainty and embrace the unknowing.

  7. Wow… thank you for coming to visit my little spot on wordpress… and for taking the time to read my own reflections of loss and grief as i try to find my way back to compassion and light. and to find your site and the compassion, the peace, the beauty that shines off the screen. I look forward to visiting again and being reminded of what is important.

  8. What a wonderful gesture. If only everyone would do the same. I too try not to judge other people’s actions as you never know what they are dealing with. It’s not always easy. In fact judging is what first comes to mind, and I have to push those thoughts away.

  9. Sometimes all it takes is a few moment and a few breaths to forgive someone and think more clearly about the situation as a whole. This post is a great reminder to do that in all situations that you can. I love the idea of that watch by the way, thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    1. I’m happy that you understand how to breathe and let go. I have the old style “now” watch. Maybe one will be made in digital style, or on cell phones; now.

  10. Thank you for the reminder to respond with kindness rather than react with anger. Something to remember every day.

  11. thanks for your visit. you have written a very inspiring blog. .It used to be do to others as you would like them to do to you. now it seems mostly that you do to others before they do anything to you. 🙂

  12. Ok, I’ve got to say I love the Thich Nhat Hanh watch, first of all. On a more serious note, your interlacing of contempletive ways with the cold hard reality of daily life is an illuminating jewel. Thank you. Namaste.

    1. Thank you for your kindness, Stephanie. Humbly I share experiences of transforming mud into lotuses, the cold into warmth. Wishing you happiness in your aspirations.

  13. Thank you. The life you save might be your own. Or mine.

    I live in Oakland. People break things all the time here. They don’t think, they don’t care. Nothing they do matters, so they are free to do anything they please. They hurt themselves more than they hurt others, sadly. I pick stuff up every day. I don’t get it all, I would spend my whole day doing nothing else. But I concentrate on broken glass and plastic. They last the longest and do the most harm. It used to make me mad, but Gaia talks to me through the garbage. She hands me plastic bags to fill sometimes. Once she threw rose petals at my feet. And occasionally something useful. But just looking at the patterns of the world, on the ground, in the sky, all around me is reward enough. I’m hoping we’ll get past our childhood as humans and be aware of our actions and the lasting results but for now all I can do is be part of the solution. As you are.

    1. thank you for offering kind words of an angel in Oakland!
      for several years I lived just south of Oakland, rode bart often. that’s when I wrote that piece.
      it’s so hard to thrive in a dirty garden, cut off from roots, untended, fertilized, not watered.
      perhaps you’ve also experienced cultures that remain empathetic and human, despite economic hardship.
      may your compassion remain diligent within, and encouraged without 🙂

  14. Being that I bike I know the dangers present when on the road, David. It’s dangerous enough with being on the same road as vehicles but then to keep scanning the road for potholes, glass, metal, screws, garbage …. when I could have been enjoying the scenery is very stressful. I aim for the back roads now to get away from the traffic and potential inconsiderate messes on the road. Thank you for cleaning up the glass. Bless you!!

    1. thank you for kindly sharing your cycling joy & concerns, Amy! i was reminded about this old post a few days ago when i found broken glass several places in town. the broom gets no rest. wishing you a happy day 🙂

  15. Wonderful post David. I specially love, “when one suffers, we all suffer. We can all benefit from acts of kindness. ” One may or may not realizes but this is true in many ways.

    1. i appreciate your finding suffering and kindness along with me, dear Rupali! may those on 2 wheels, 4 wheels or no wheels kindly be with each other in harmony 🙂

  16. A thoughtful and mindful perspective to choose for your uncomfortable experience David. If we could approach life in this way no matter what is happening, together we could heal the world. Beautiful 🌈☘🌾

  17. David, luckily you were okay. It matters to a certain extent if this was intentional and malicious or pure carelessness. I agree wholehearted, that kindness, smiles are infectious – behaviour like this is a shock to one’s soul, saddening to see and come across.

    I’ve never heard of ‘now’ watch – brilliant! We should all have one!😀

  18. hello smilecalm its dennis the vizsla dog oh hay broken glass!!! my dada sez that wuz always the bayn of mowntin biking wenever the root wuz along ware peepul mite go with bottels!!! it is also the bayn of puppy paws i kan tel yoo that!!! i am glad yoo got thru it withowt enny flats or runins with kars!!! ok bye

  19. I am glad that you didn’t get hurt.. and I love what you say about compassion and caring for others, even if they are just strangers to us. Some bad moments can be enlightening, for sure 💕🤗💛 sending love and best wishes

  20. So glad you didn’t hurt yourself. What a nasty surprise to encounter. But you turned it into something positive.

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