We could so easily have been strangers, you and I.
We could so easily have never met, never attended the same meditation group.
I could never have heard you speak,
And learned that you were humorous and friendly and fragile as well as intelligent;
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Never learned that you are a late riser just like me,
An insomniac just like me,
And that growing up, you got into trouble every morning with your mother, just like me,
For being too sleepy to get out of bed and get ready for school, after a whole night of mental romping around the galaxy.
We could have been strangers, you and I,
Could have easily passed by one another in the market,
Both of us lost in our thoughts,
Both of us rushing to carry out the chores on our mental priority lists and get them over with in time for dinner,
Too busy to stop and introduce ourselves,
Or even question whether there might be any spiritual value or sense of the sacred in that Other passing by us
To make it worthwhile interrupting ourselves over,
To step down on the brake of assumptions,
To step down on the brake of stereotypes,
In these vehicles of loneliness we travel around the world in,
These vehicles of isolation we call me and you,
Mine and yours,
His and hers,
Us and them,
Them versus us.
It could have been so easy for us to remain strangers,
Unknown, unheard, unloved, unhugged by one another,
And it could be so easy for us to become strangers again.
(I hope it doesn’t end that way).
Bird Trungma of Bellingham is a poet, non-fiction writer, and a meditation instructor and teacher of Buddhist philosophy and practice. A Buddhist practitioner since the early 1970s, most of her writings deal with spirituality, and how it can imbue our lives with richness and a deeper level of meaning.