a movement in time

P1030990Chiang Mai: Walking back from the market carrying bags of vegetables through groups of slow-moving people in brightly coloured clothing; noise, heat, bright sunshine, large, coloured umbrellas and dense dark shadow. All kinds of obstacles on the pavement, sidewalk – more like walking on the edge of the road, sharing the space with the traffic, things being as they are, in this densely populated place where the sidewalk is often needed for other civic requirements. Maybe a phone box takes up the whole area. Or there’s a tree in the way, uneven paving stones due to ongoing repairs, or a raised concrete lid over a drain, fallen in, and one corner sticks up at an angle so you step down to street level because it’s easier. Then there’s a parked car in the way and you have to get around that; mindfulness of moving traffic coming in all directions. There’s an alertness that just automatically locks in place, obstructions and dangers above and below and on all sides like this, the infrastructure intrudes, but always there’s just enough room, squeezing through a sort of tunnel of directional force that extends in front, takes me along out from the space I’m in here now, along the way through this urban clutter and busy-ness of objects.

Then something happens that’s completely unexpected. There’s a green cloth sheet that obscures a construction site on my left side; three or four floors up, scaffolding, ropes and there’s a tied-up bundle of concrete blocks being lowered down above my head – it’s coming too quickly, I can see it in the corner of my vision. This lowering bundle strikes a sticking-out platform on the way down and a large board catapaults out, spins in the air and lands just behind me CRASH! There it is, a long heavy scaffolding board held by the green cloth sheet, now ripped, and the board caught there in a small cloud of dusty air. If it had been one second earlier…. People stop and look up, call to the workers in the building. They lean over, wide-brimmed straw hats, observe the scene. There’s some shouting and I don’t want to get involved in this; continue down the path to the apartment, nearly there. Open the door and the air conditioning hits me, up in the elevator, unlock door and into my quiet rooms.

I’m trembling, – there’s an elation too, can’t decide if I’m happy or scared out of my wits. Can’t get over how near I was to being injured by that falling board. The important thing is that it missed me and maybe that’s the way to go with this – no matter how near it was, it didn’t happen. Something is telling me I need to let go of the holding-on thing here; just calm down and watch the breath for a bit. Open the laptop, start-up, find the page I was looking at yesterday, Sangeeta’s ‘Serene Reflection’ and her Inner Landscapes page:


‘I meander along the babbling brook – all the while realizing that its song comes from the obstructions it surmounts.’ It all fits together. There may be obstructions in the babbling brook but the water passes through them all anyway. We hear the sound of it: a river of small collisions. The near accident is telling me the World is all of this and more; the obstacles and that which encounters the obstacles. Sometimes I can look for an understanding of it everywhere and not find anything because I am part of what I’m looking for; that which is looking for itself, not finding it and seeing that this is what is taking place. This is what it is really but I can’t see it. Or you can say there’s nothing to find anyway because, always, it’s the World revealing itself, and ‘my’ seeking it isn’t actually doing anything. It’s simply a movement in time. This thought is enough to see the event as part of a very much larger all-inclusive whole…. And I can abide in that restful awareness.



Photos: Bang Pah In (upper) & Khaosan Road (lower) by Peter and Elaine Henderson

10 thoughts on “a movement in time

  1. Homage for that transformation of a scary experience 🙂 and thanks for the link as well; the brook analogy is most effective. I’ve driven a motorbike round Chiang Mai, it certainly is a good practice of mindfulness and alertness!

  2. What a beautiful post… it transported me into your world of urban clutter, and also subsequently into a place of deep rest. These are exactly the kind of instances that I like to pause in, looking for the restfulness amid the chaos of our daily lives. Thank you so much.

    Also, I am touched that you remembered my post at such a time. Thank you for including the link.



  3. So true about how attending to the visual, aural, spatial clutter can bring one to simple, mindful stillness …….. And thanks for pointing out how the song of the brook comes from the water surmounting its obstacles. Water is such a lovely image. May our songs sing out too!

    • It’s just like that, about being wide open to all the sensory input that comes from the world and no ‘self’ there to identify with it; the song of the brook surmounting its obstacles. Thank you for these kind words.

      • I love those times when I can be wide open, but I find that I turn to something a bit numbing after awhile (like playing solitaire on my phone, haha) Have a hard time staying open, I guess ………. what WOULD that be like?!?!?

        BTW, what is ‘tiramit’ — your name?

      • Good question. Is it that being ‘open’ is subject to change, movement, and the constancy of it has to be in that context? The water analogy would again be appropriate here. And yes, tiramit is my ID. It’s a Thai name meaning good friend – tira is strength and mit is friend (steadfast companion). It comes from the Sanskrit mitradhir, and J. R. R. Tolkien used it in ‘Lord of the Rings.’ The elves’ name for Gandalph: Mithrandir.

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