Last week, I was driving out to Deer Park in Oregon, Wisconsin down one of the busiest thruways listening to a true crime podcast, in clothes grossly unbefitting to "normal society", and honestly, not emotionally ready for what was going to happen:
So there I am, going southbound in the inner lane closest to the grassy median between our two lanes and the other two northbound lanes, when a black squirrel darts out in front of my Jeep. I'd say traffic was going about 50 mph at that point and I slowed way down (not even remembering that there are vehicles behind me) and watched the squirrel think about its next action, and go back into the grass. I looked in my review mirror to see a vehicle swerve into the next lane to avoid hitting me and by that time, I had passed the squirrel's location. I continued to look in my review mirror to check what was happening and I thought I saw the little guy run, but know I did see other vehicles had slowed. As I continued driving on, the vehicle that swerved around me was turning off the road, but going slower than normal in the turn lane ... you know what I mean here -- you witness someone doing something stupid and you give them that look of, "Did you seriously do that in traffic," when you pass them. Yeah, I got that look and yeah, I didn't appreciate it.
As I drove on, instantly I found my practice off the cushion:
Maybe the driver who swerved around me could have used his brakes, but he didn't and he also was on top of it enough to not hit me; I am grateful for him being the driver behind me and I honor the sentient being he is; and then about the squirrel! How frightening for that little creature to be caught in a place and in a mental state where you have to make a choice based on survival, where it's freezing cold and there is deafening noise all around you, where you've barely survived two lanes of blindingly fast objects coming at you to have to cross two more; I knew I did all I could to give what I had to that little sentient being and its survival, and I too knew how that creature felt because I've experienced life in survival mode where it felt so frightening to even breathe. I mean, I even chose to identify with the driver I upset.
I had the realization that we all really aren't separate, or all that different ... no matter what our exterior looks like. The rest of my drive was quiet.
I had to take the same road back home and I decided to look in the lanes where the squirrel would have been hit, and I was emotionally prepared to see its body and blood all over the road. BUT IT WASN'T THERE! THE SQUIRREL SURVIVED! THE LITTLE ONE MADE IT! I have cheered pretty loudly in my time -- I mean, I'm from Wisconsin and I play hockey, but what came out of me in celebration surprised even me! I was so proud of that little guy!
I saw Vajrayogini in my actions and I felt Her in my heart. I heard Khandro-la's words resound in my mind. I had retained some small fraction of practice, and it took a squirrel to show me that.
May that little guy find all the nuts this winter, and may the driver who swerved be warm and free of suffering!