The Other Me

The Mayan expression, “In Lak’ech” translates as, “You are the other me.” Our humanity is shared, our Source the same. The Golden Rule must apply. I’ve been straying off the mark. 

For instance, I like solo nature walks, keeping a mask handy. Recently, a guy pops onto the narrow dirt road I’m on, headed towards me, staring intently into his phone. He comes up close, no mask in sight! I veer off to the shoulder, indignant: might he be a viral spreader-shredder?!

My dodging reactivity is becoming automatic—a new knee-jerk fight-or-flight syndrome. Distancing from others as if they’re potentially toxic, objects to avoid at all costs. Reflection tells me I’m “othering” them, estranging myself, alienating you and me. And vice versa. We’re looking past or through one another, ignoring our common humanity.

I’ve often decried “phubbing,” how preoccupation with smartphones makes fellow humans  non-existent, unimportant, invisible. Now I have a new knee-jerk dehumanizing talent of my own.  

On August 20, under Walbridge fire evac warnings, I was running quick errands in Windsor when my car quit on me. No cell phone with me either. CVS Pharmacy helped me call a tow for 6:30 pm, a four-hour wait. I raised the car hood so the truck could locate me. Many people walked by me, looking away uneasily. Until a gracious Muslim husband and wife went out of their way to help and stand by me. She handed me her cell phone, offered a ride home, a drink. He tried to get old Bluebell the Buick started. Thanking them profusely, they remarked, “Of course!”  Adding that ”not everyone would accept our help…” This Jewish lady sympathizes readily with the othering of Muslims, too, in our country, the failure of “In Lak’ech” sensibilities.

My mindfulness practice can help me stay more present and available in encountering other people. Even if I’m shopping briskly, I can reduce robotic, stressful dodging, darting, distancing. I want to breathe easier, even in my mask. To be available to once again register another as someone who like myself, needs recognition, respect, appreciation. Especially “in these times.” 

Marcia Singer’s Love Arts Foundation offers classes in mindfulness and meditation from her Zoom Womb in Sonoma County.
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