Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Guanyin Showers Me With Compassion

Guanyin: in her right hand, a bottle of pure water. In her left: a garden hose, for spraying compassion on hapless cyclists.

I lost my wedding ring while riding my bicycle home tonight. At the four-way stop (yes that one) on my way home from work, I touched thumb to ring in a compulsive, or at least habitual, manner, and OH NO. It was gone. The golden symbol of union with my beloved had vanished. I pulled over to the side to get visual confirmation, staring at my naked finger: yep, gone gone gone. I looked at the ground in my immediate area, on the chance that I had drifted off to spinning happy la-la land and been snapped back by the clink clink of gold on asphalt, but it was nowhere around. 

So, think back, stay calm, focus, visualize, anything unusual happen, other than LOSING YOUR WEDDING RING, I mean? Well, just as I was pulling out of the driveway at work, a pickup truck that may have been speeding a bit surprised me, causing me to brake just I started to roll out, but no, I didn't think it was that. A palo verde tree had blown down across the canal path, leaving only a foot or two to pass between it and the water, but no, that didn't seem like a wedding ring removing moment, either.

I flashed back to every person I passed who may have seen my ring, and picked it up: the cycling waiter, the two girls on cruisers riding the wrong way down the bike lane, the woman walking her dog. Had they seen the glint of gold, and picked it up? What were the odds that on my way back I would run into one of them, and what conversation could I start that would result in them giving it back to me? I hoped someone had found it; I hoped no one had found it; I pictured all of them headed directly to the pawn shop, or home to the kitchen table to stare at the thing, to ponder the moral dilemma before them.

Another possibility, one which struck me as quite possible, and gave me an interesting sense of yes that's what happened, was that it had fallen off as I was stuffing my clothes into my trunk bag. I got off the bike, unzipped the trunk, and there it was. I slipped it back on the finger, snugly, and was happy for one less boneheaded move to have to explain.

Guanyin With Garden Hose was on another side of the house with the art from yesterday's post about the Reach 11 ride. She is believed by both Buddhists and Daoists to dispense unlimited and unconditional love, compassion and mercy. I was thinking about her on the ride home, not focused tightly on her, just generally free-associating about what the text would be to accompany the photo above. When I found the ring in the trunk bag, I did imagine that she had turned the magic hose on me there at the four-way stop. While I may not actually believe specifically in immortal beings like Guanyin who float around the ether spraying mercy our way at opportune or needful times, I did reason that compassion and mercy are real psychological states, and that it's possible that contemplating Guanyin as a symbol of this class of psychological states in my moment of crisis induced a positive feeling of calmness and focus which I needed to figure out where my ring had gone. If I had freaked out and flown directly to a dark spirally place crushed by the cold, merciless, infinite vastness of the universe instead, I probably would have turned around and pedaled the whole way back to work in a sweaty panic, riding the wrong way down the bike lane, scanning the ground for a lost ring of gold, exhibiting a most ineffective and unsafe form of cycling, to no avail.

Maybe it was the long ride Sunday that left me with a slightly clearer head even after a long Monday of work. Maybe it was Guanyin's infinite compassion showering down on me after all. Or maybe it was sheer, blind chance, and in an alternate universe another John Romeo Alpha is still riding around on a hot night, dehydrated, sweaty, desperately scanning the dirt for a ring of gold that he lost, cursing his clumsiness, cursing his bad luck, cursing the blind and infinite blackness. I'm sending a trans-dimensional Guanyin missile his way. Chill out dude. Attachment leads to sadness. Let go. Get up. Go ride.

No Hiding Place


  1. The joy of finding that which is lost is never equal to the despair of the loss. Why is that?
    It's close but it never removes it totally.

  2. Coolness.
    Sounds like Mr. Skinny needs to resize that ring!

  3. Or maybe it's the despair of loss that registers the depth of a joy we hadn't been paying full attention to?

    Glad you found the ring. Some attachments are worth whatever sadness they entail.

  4. OldFool, it could be that each loss reminds us a little bit that you can't hold on to any thing forever, and finding the thing we lost doesn't un-remind us about that.

    limom that would be a very, very good idea. Although I maintain one should not ride like him.

    True Emma, a periodic re-acquaintance with the transitory has a way of refocusing us on what matters. The emotions we experience then can be a ruler for the other times when we're not in the panic of what's been lost...and what we'll lose, eventually.

    Some losses we never get over. I want to think we're the better for that characteristic, but it doesn't always feel that way in the pit of my stomach.

  5. Reading this, I was going to smugly comment that I take my wedding ring off when I ride, but then I realized that I *do* wear it when commuting, and I am just as likely to have this happen to me. Blast.

    Really glad you found the ring!

  6. Thanks Apertome, according to the wikipedia wedding ring article, the tradition of wedding rings for women goes back to Ancient Rome or earlier, while males only started doing it much more recently, possibly even in the 20th Century following WWII. So we have the excuse that we haven't had much time to practice, in addition to a few other common male traits which all in all probably mean that it would be a better idea for me to remove my ring and store it safely while commuting by bicycle. As long as I remember where I put it.

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