In the Zen tradition there is a practice in some lineages of monks walking behind meditators (usually other monks) and striking them with a stick. A few days ago life hit me with a zen stick.
It's kind of funny because I was sitting in traffic, and in my rear-view mirror I noticed a minivan behind me with a dashboard full of Beanie Baby stuffed animals. I sarcastically thought to myself, "Great, I'm going to get rear-ended by a bunch of Beanie Babies."
Minutes later I was stopped at a red light, un-mindfully minding my own business. I was probably thinking about music or errands or something else inane, when BAM!, I was hit from behind.
My head whiplashed. I hit the car in front of me. My seatbelt did its job.
The woman in the Beanie Baby van got out and ran up to my window, "I'm so sorry!!"
I was kind of dazed, "Yeah, alright... I guess we should pull over..."
Anyway, no real injuries. My bumper has some damage that she's going to have pay for. However, for the last couple of days the power and sound of that impact have hovered in my mind. I know that if it wasn't for my daily meditation practice, this event and lingering feeling would leave me feeling much more rattled and uneasy.
I also realized today that the feeling and sound of that impact is the last sensation that many, many people feel.
You're sitting in traffic, un-mindfully minding your own business, when BAM!! ... and it's lights out. You're gone.
"This life of ours would not cause you sorrow if you thought of it as like the mountain cherry blossoms which bloom and fade in a day."
~ Murasaki Shikibu