• A meditation on choices

    Sometimes, coincidences connect, layer, and spiral back on themselves like bats in flight. When they do we are faced with choices. Yesterday, my day started that way. I left late from Pismo Beach for my 300-mile drive home. I missed my coffee date with my friend in Avila, and when that fell through, went on a mission to find coffee.

    I missed the off-ramp too. I got off the freeway and attempted to circle back and find that one Peet’s Coffee I remembered seeing days before. I lack a sense of direction, so finding a spot on new terrain is always sketchy.

    I drove around the one-way streets of San Luis Obispo and eventually found a parking space under a large tree, a block away from the coffee. The sun was finally out, and it was beautiful.

    My daughter and I dug up quarters and put money in the meter.

    I locked the car and looked toward the shade under the big tree and saw something small and struggling on the cement. It looked like a tiny person with a cape crawling out of the sidewalk. It captivated me. I walked toward it.

    A young lady walked toward it from the other direction. Before I could think, I asked, “It’s not a baby bird?”

    “No,” she said. Through the mottled light I could not see her face. My focus was on the small, helpless thing.

    At the same time, we both said, “It’s a bat.”

    I know the rules about rabies, bats and not picking up stray animals. I know that bats aren’t pets, that I had better wash my hands… but bats seem to find me. Only two weeks ago, in broad daylight, a bat flew over to me, flew around me, and perched next to me, before flying off. I was told it was an omen. That “Bat” was my “totem teacher,” and that “Bat” always has important lessons for people. It is the symbol for lessons of the shaman.

    I couldn’t let my little bat teacher get rolled over by skateboards or bikes on the sidewalk of a bustling college town, could I? I had to make a choice.

    The young lady held an 8×10 envelope. I borrowed it, keeping my eye fixed on the bat, I scooped it up and placed it on the brick wainscoting that skirted the building.

    “Mrs. Loren?” The girl blurted with incredulity. For the first time I looked up toward the girl’s face. It was Jessy, my namesake and a dear student of mine from three years ago. She said, “I recognized your voice. What are you doing here?”

    That was the million-dollar question. Of all the days to be far from home on a side street of a college town, how is it my prior student and I could be brought together over the needs of a tiny, displaced bat?

    I am still not sure what a shaman lesson is. Is my lesson about my family, is it my own health issues, or is it the trip I will take in July? Am I going to get rabies? Is it my teaching job? Is it my friendships? Just raising the questions allows me to meditate on the choices and subjects I must face in the near future.

    Maybe coincidences allow us to connect our own meaning to things, and that connection validates the correctness of our choices.



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