Let us talk about the moments in life that make you feel as if you’ve gone crazy, for better or for worse. One such moment occurred to me recently—in this case, for the better—and so the sensation is on my mind.
What happened is this: I was at yoga, at the exact time I am always at yoga on the exact day I’m always at yoga (I love a schedule), having the exact interaction I always have at yoga, where I sign in and drop my credit card and then run into the classroom for a moment to get what I hope will be a good spot. Then I come back, say another, more complete hello to the front desk person, and sign the receipt. It is fairly straightforward, and I have repeated this exact pattern for what I’m now astonished to realize is many years.
It is funny, I guess I’m saying, how the things we do the most can become the most invisible.
But in this case! I ran into the classroom with neurotic fervor to set down my mat just-so, like a grade school child seeking their favorite place at the table, and then when I came back to sign my receipt, the front desk person was there, just where I left her, but now she had a tiny rabbit sitting in her hands like a communion wafer. I know I’m over-metaphoring. I am calling attention. There was nothing, and then there was this rabbit. What if you sneezed, and suddenly there was a baby rabbit in your hand? It was like that.
Nothing about it felt ordinary.
It turns out this bunny had been attacked by a cat just before the desk person left for the studio: she saved it, and, not knowing what else to do, put it in her hoodie pocket, and biked over. Then, after a few minutes with this tiny secret heartbeat hidden in her clothing, she took it out and revealed it. The rabbit was very calm. After passing it around to a number of us, she slipped it back into her pocket and let it stay there for the rest of class. (The bunny was eventually taken, unharmed, to a wildlife rescue.)
When I was in high school, I walked a lot. One day, or rather I should say one night, I was walking somewhere: I remember being alone, though I may not have been. We lived in the suburbs, so it was quiet and dark and no one was really around. I perhaps felt a slight chill, or the thrill of my rising independence, but on the whole there was nothing unusual about this walk, is what I’m saying.
Then I saw a flashing light. It was half a block away, moving erratically up and down and over and back; I couldn’t figure it out. I was and am a person who loved conspiracies, alien stories, The X-Files, and as I watched it, letting my pattern-making human brain struggle and try to fit it into a known pattern, the only thing that came to mind was the descriptions people give of UFOs, which turn and accelerate and stop quite suddenly, unlike any human plane, zipping around outside the laws of physics.
It’s an alien, I thought. It must have joints that move forward and backwards, like a hinge. It must be bioluminescent. It must be terrifying. You see, I was not excited, not the way I thought I would be if the world I knew came crashing to its knees before me. I had been looking at a normal night and then I did not know what I was looking at.
Reader, it was a bicycle. The movement was its flashing reflectors, sliding around on the spokes of the wheels. It wasn’t that far away and so I realized soon enough, but for a moment my mind was forced to encompass the notion that things were changing, forever, and I was afraid.
It was a silly thing. Less notable, in actual fact, than the magic appearance of a rabbit (which is, of course, absolutely classic magic), but to be honest I’ll never forget it. Maybe I will never forget either. Those small moments of shift. They can be scary. We are not always ready. To face whatever comes to surprise us, or to face our own reaction to them. But maybe we get ready, over time. Maybe I am more prepared, now, for what will most surprise me. I can’t know. I can’t try. I can only be open to the possibility.