Being the Observerby Robert Meagher on 01/02/20
A couple of months ago I was cycling home from an evening coffee with a colleague I had not seen in many years. It was dark out by the time I started back home, so I had on my reflective vest and flashing lights on the front and back of my bicycle.
Less than 100 feet from my home, a cyclist coming in the other direction, suddenly cut across the street and abruptly veered toward me. To avoid a collision, I slammed on my breaks. I stopped too quickly, however. The momentum of my moving forward caused me to flip over my handlebars and crash to the pavement.
I remember at one moment I was aware that my feet were above my head. Time seemed to stop. I then felt myself hit the pavement and skid briefly. I remember hearing the bicycle crash and scrape the pavement. I remember hoping the bike was going to be okay.
As I lay on the pavement, I remember wondering if I was injured. So I decided to move slowly. I started with a leg. That one was okay. I moved my other leg. That was okay too. I moved an arm. That arm was okay. Then I moved the other arm. That arm was okay too. I slowly, very slowly made my way to my feet.
I remember looking down the street. I saw the cyclist carrying on their way. It did not appear that they had slowed down at all. They certainly had not stopped. They didn’t even look back.
At this moment, I remember feeling an intense rage well up inside of me. It felt like the other cyclist had intentionally veered across the street to hit me. My rage wanted me to yell some profanity at the cyclist. My rage wanted me to hop on my bicycle, chase down the cyclist, and confront them. Even worse, my rage wanted me to physically assault the cyclist for what, in my rage, I felt the cyclist had done to me.
As my rage was having a field day with what it wanted me to do, I became aware there was a part of me that had been watching the entire event unfold. Let’s call this part of me the ‘observer.’ This observer did nothing more than observe. It watched the other cyclist veer toward me. It watched me slam on my breaks. It watched me flip over my handlebars. It watched me crash to the pavement. It watched me pick myself up. It watched me fill with rage.
And through all the watching the observer simply observed. It did nothing more, and nothing less. It simply watched what unfolded. It did not judge. It accepted it all. Most significant, the observer was silent. The observer was at peace.
I quietly walked my bicycle home. Remember, I was less than 100 feet from my home. I remember feeling at peace. I also remember feeling rage. It was like there was an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Except, the observer was watching both!
In the days that passed, I vacillated between rage and peace about the event. Eventually the experience melted away. But what has stayed with me is the memory of the observer. That observer is someone or something I intend to cultivate a relationship with.
Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.