Several weeks ago, a young woman riding her bike in the bicycle lane of a busy nearby square was "doored" (hit by a car door opened by someone who was not looking) and knocked off her bike directly into the path of an oncoming truck, which could not stop.
This happened about 3/4 of a mile from my house. Within a day, a Ghost Bike had showed up and was placed, covered in flowers, at the exact location where she had been killed. Since I drive or walk by that location several times a week, it was upsetting to see the bike there.
Bicycling groups around the world have long observed a thought-provoking custom to memorialize fatalities caused by motor vehicles. When a rider has a fatal accident while bicycling, someone will take an old bike and paint it white. They will then place it permanently it at the location of the fatality. These are called "Ghost Bikes." It may sound gruesome; however, it is such a poignant reminder of the perils of biking in a car-saturated urban environment.
Unfortunately, another such bike has now showed up practically at my front door. On August 29th, there was a fatality less than a block from my house. Strangely, I was home with the door open and yet never heard a thing.
There's a commuter train that goes right by my house, and the tracks must cross an unbelievably busy street. I've lived here for decades and have never heard of an accident between this train, which runs frequently, and any vehicle on that road--bus, truck, car, biker, or pedestrian. The crossing is incredibly well marked. Long before the train comes through, loud bells begin to ring, bright lights begin to flash, and two very long barriers come down across the road, one for each direction. Therefore, it was incredibly puzzling to hear that on the 29th, a bicyclist was hit and killed by a commuter train there.
This is a mystery for sure. What really happened? It was broad daylight. It was a fine clear day. All the crossing signals (lights, bells, barriers) were working perfectly. All the cars on either side of the tracks were stopped. Many pedestrians were also stopped, waiting to cross once the train had passed. And other bicyclists were stopped.
All of a sudden, another cyclist came down the road with great speed. Everyone assumed he would stop. When he did not, motorists and pedestrians started yelling for him to stop. He did not. In fact, he actually had to maneuver his bike around the barriers to get onto the tracks--past the lights, the bells, and the barriers. He never stopped, and a large number of horrified observers watched as the train hit the bike and he was killed.
What was going on there? Was this a suicide? Or was he in a rush and did he assume he could make it across before the train? Who was he? What was his history? It seems likely it was suicide, given the fact that he had to really work hard to get onto the tracks and couldn't have failed to notice the signals and barrier.
I will never know. Nor will I know his name.
I'm not a cyclist (too scary around here), but I feel terrible about this, and now I have a Ghost Bike just a stone's throw from my house. Not something I ever wanted to see here.
Rest in peace, whoever you are.
My heart is with the people of Paris today.
The Joey Challenge this week (#86) was to do a W-2 monotangle. Quite a challenge...in fact, monotangles are always difficult when one is trying to do something creative, rather than just using the technique to learn the tangle for the first time.
I did want to do something different. I've done W-2 in the past with great success using just a Micron and graphite--it's a lovely tangle that looks tricky but really isn't, with patience and with a mindful approach. But making it look different? I dunno...
Then I decided to crosshatch it rather than using gentle graphite shading. And while I was at it, I decided to add Rainbow Lead pencil to it. And I decided to crosshatch the first try with a Micron (no erasing with that!) and to do it messily rather than carefully. What result would I get?
Well, here it is. It's messy. It's different. It reminds me of ribbon candy. Do I love it? No, but I'm glad I tried it.
There is something jagged and edgy in the result that reminds me of my feelings about the terror attack in Paris. (I do NOT mean to compare my scribbles to the gravity of what is going on there...just saying that despite the soft coloring and ribbon-candy look, it's got darkness going on and that reflects a bit of what I was feeling. i can only imagine what Parisians are feeling this evening...here in Boston, we know something about the effect of this type of shocking, senseless, brutal violence.)
I did this in my Tangle-a-Day calendar.
I then decided to try this on a black tile to see what would happen. Once again I used cross-hatching, both with the Signo Uniball Pen and with the Rainbow Lead. Here's the result, which I find interesting but also troubling. It seems that tangling was bringing out some of those rough feelings over last night's terrorism. In doing this mindfully, I reflected my awareness of right now, right here.
Will we ever mature enough to know peace? To embody peace?
This week I lost two people from my life. One at the start of the week, a very kind man in his early 60s who had been waiting for a heart transplant and was simply too ill to go on. He had been dying for weeks. It was agonizing. When death came, it was peaceful and he was in the presence of loving family. Given his medical situation, I am happy for him. But I will miss him. I spent considerable time in meditation practice allowing memories of him to arise, allowing feelings to arise, and sitting with my feelings.
Then, this morning, I got news that a Facebook friend whom I had never actually met but whom I'd grown to love, died in her sleep yesterday morning. She was only in her 40s. She was diabetic, and mentioned that occasionally in her postings, but I never realized how brittle her condition really was. She worked and was in a long-term relationship with a guy she absolutely adored; she loved her furry companions; she designed and wore a bright red t-shirt that read "Ask me for a tarot reading!" - and people did ask her. And she read for everyone who asked. She was a believer in living out loud, sharing her thoughts with anyone who read her blog. She was truly fearless in the way she lived her life. And although I never met her, I broke down and cried this morning. What a sweetie, and what a hilarious woman. I will miss her so much...
So, it was back into practice--the hard practice of life after loss. I had already done my formal meditation when this news came, so instead I went to the studio and worked on my rug, while once again allowing memories and feelings to arise. I just tried to be present, to honor the memory of two great people who left the world this week. Am still sitting with all this, and holding them in my heart.
Tonight I engaged in a different kind of practice, on a much lighter note. I worked on the same tangles tonight that I had done for the first time earlier this week. Here was my first attempt (posted here on a previous date, and pictured first below):
Just above are the same tangles repeated tonight for practice. And yes, you are correct--I didn't repeat them "in order." They still aren't great beauties, but they are coming along slowly but surely. They were very soothing to do after a hard day.
Meditation is all about practice. Drawing, and Zentangle®, are all about practice. For that matter, life is all about practice, isn't it?
An Irish headstone tells us: "Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal."
I send my love and dedication to Ted and Nadine. I will miss you both very much. I will practice remembering your kindness, humor, and courage. I will practice being glad I knew you.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm always open to hearing about a good venue in the Cambridge-Somerville area). I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society
Skillful Meditation Project