The Power of One

I was coming home from the studio late the other evening, juggling a bag of groceries and walking a ten-speed bike when a squat, grey-haired older man passes by and stops me on the sidewalk.  He starts pointing into the sky, speaking in French.  Not understanding the context, I asked him to repeat himself.  He switched to English and says, “Do you see that star right there?  That is Mars.”  I looked up and indeed, there was a reddish star twinkling in the night sky.  “And that one,” he continued, “is Jupiter.”  He motioned me to follow him down the sidewalk, and I curiously obliged, bike, bag and groceries banging into my shins.  Once we had cleared the apartment building blocking our view, he showed me Saturn.

I listened and followed his gesticulating finger into the heavens, grateful for this random, magical encounter with an urban astrologer because when I get right down to thinking about it, the stars can just about blow my mind.  It’s miraculous, really.  To be here.  On this teeny-tiny planet, just one in billions of others.  I mean, if there is ever a day when your ego feels big or overly important, tilt your head back and look at the stars.  That oughta shrink you back down to size.  Put the grand scheme into perspective.  Because THAT is big.
My life, not so much.

I get the same impression when I ride the metro.  As I sit in that subway car, I start to look at all of the faces.  I think about my life, in all of its complexities:  where I came from, where I’ve been, traveled to, the things I’ve experienced.  I see my life in my minds’ eye like that red line they use in movies to show airplane travel on a map.  And I see all of these faces in the subway car, making eye contact with some of them, and I think of their complex lives; different backgrounds, different upbringings, foreign lands, languages, hardships.  I see their red lines criss-crossing and spreading all across the globe; human-life macramé.  But at that moment, somehow and for some reason, all of our red lines are converging into one single point in that metro car.  Miraculous!! Amazing!!  What are the odds!?  And then the subway stops, I stare out the window and at that exact moment, I lock eyes with a person in the window of the subway car going in the opposite direction.  A red-lined, Cats’ Cradle formation of personal history and human experience has just crossed a sooty subway tunnel with one meaningful glance and connected.    Steam whistles and firecrackers explode between my ears because it is all just TOO BIG for my brain to wrap around.

For the first time, I had the opportunity at the Montreal studio to open my class with the sound of Om.  I’ve always loved the sound of Om.  There are four integral components.  The first syllable is the “Ah”, then the “Uuuu”.  Start to round your lips to change to the “Mmm”, lingering and buzzing on the “mmmm”.  The fourth syllable, as equally as important as all the rest, is the sound of silence.  The silence is part of the mantra.  Silence is part of sound.  Herman Hesse writes, “it is the sound of a thousand voices, the river of all occurrences, the music of life.  The whole, oneness:  perfection.”  In that class, 45 voices became one voice.  45 different frequencies became one frequency.  And then 45 voices found silence.  Silence as audible as the hum that preceded it.

Following that silence was a collective inhale.  And to me, that was one of the most beautiful breaths I’ve ever heard.  There we were, with backgrounds so varied they may as well have been other galaxies; coming from all over the world, parts of the city, corners of life.  45 red lines converging together in the same room, at the same time, in the same breath.

And I think that is just the coolest thing.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nora Reda
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 15:20:34

    Jennifer, I don’t think I know you or you know me but with your great pieces of creative writing I can see myself in you…or see you as a part of me and that is like the red lines crossing without even locking eyes. Keep writing and inspiring!


  2. risingontheroad
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 19:20:10

    Ah beautiful beautiful..


  3. Robin Hewitt
    Apr 15, 2012 @ 14:53:55

    When you come back to Charlottetown, could you please start the class with a round of OMs? I used to attend another class where the instructor did this and always felt very connected to my classmates and the Universal Energy that really connects us all. Looking forward to your return. Namaste 🙂


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