I believe in intimacy. I believe it is a quality of being present and vulnerable to each moment. Usually we cultivate this awareness only with the people we know and love, but I believe in order to grow, we should be intimate with everyone. It took an accident for me to learn this was possible.
It was an unusually windy morning as I jogged in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The trees rustled and swayed wildly. Almost at my turnaround spot, I heard branches snapping above me, an oncoming car prevented me from immediately crossing the street. As I waited for it to pass, the groaning, cracking sounds became louder and I knew that a tree was about to fall. I ran as a mass of branches and twigs collapsed behind me and just when I thought I would make it, a branch hit me on the head –my lower spine exploded in pain and I fell face-down along with the tree.
I remember staring at a yellow strip of paint on asphalt, the smell of tar, the grainy warmth of the road on my palms, and then, wiggling each toe and finger, and being grateful for the ability to do so. In the minutes that followed many people, voices, came to offer help. One of the first was a woman who immediately took my hand. She asked about my injuries. She told me to stay still when I got impatient and wanted to get up, but what I remember most was how firmly we held onto each others hand as we waited for the ambulance, as the police interviewed me, as the grounds crew chainsawed the tree, and a news team filmed my mishap… Through it all, I remained calm because of the steadiness this woman’s hand. She let me go only when the EMS took over my care.
I never had the chance to thank her or even look up to see what she looked like, but I believe I know what kind of person she is. Holding that stranger’s hand was one of the most intimate experiences of my life. Struck down, I didn’t have anything left but my vulnerability and my presence. Seeing the need of another, she gave only her strength and kindness, and in that moment, we shared the essence of our humanity. We were intimate.
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