Not too long ago, a small sculpture of a fox was stolen from my favorite art gallery, Ernie & Gray. Ernie & Gray is beloved by all so this small act of thievery landed like a bomb of treachery. The video footage was widely shared. Who would do this? Was it an accident? Did she pocket the little fox without thinking? Or, was it a malignant act in a long line of fox swipes? Intent would lessen or amplify our collective outrage. We wanted answers and probably some blood.
But then an unexpected thing happened. The fox was returned. Likely a terrible and very awkward exchange on behalf of the swiper, but hot damn it was returned and restored to its installation, chest puffed with pride once again.
Course correction takes bravery. It's not easy to admit wrong doing nor is it easy to take steps to remedy a misstep(s).
Last night after a blissful session of yoga in the park, I hopped on my bike, Lemon for a wild ride home. I knew that Dave and Peyton weren't waiting on me, so I took the long way home--wind in my hair, hopping curbs, and yes, singing and not too quietly. Party of one— raucous and amazing. That is until I rolled up to an intersection, a little hot, inches away from a small statured woman frantically pressing the button to the crosswalk. She was maybe 5 feet tall, her head covered with what looked to be an orthodox head scarf. From behind she gave off the aura of peace--a gentle and soft, elderly woman out for a walk on a beautiful night. She turned to face me. Before making eye contact she muttered and then spit at me. She tightened her clutch on a sleeping bag and I noticed that the softness I had assumed was the result of layers and layers of clothes to help her endure the elements. I was too close and the muttering turned to shouting. Her face hardened and creased with the look of someone who no longer had anything to lose--no motive for "good manners." When and where did her mind get its scratch? Did someone hurt her? What has this woman endured? Before shuffling across the street, she brought her face close to my chest, inhaling the floral scent of my friend, Jessica, who had left her perfumed hug on me just moments before. In this feral sniff, she softened for a split second. I remained still so as not to scare her, hoping that at a bare minimum, the scent would lessen her misery. And then she was off with a hiss, shuffling across the street.
The way we wear our history,
Our choices, reactions, and fears
A heavy cloak draped over our bodies.
I brought the little fox home with me today (a purchase not a swipe! Just want to be clear). I love it dearly, but I also wanted to extend my hospitality to the courage it represents--a talisman for all that we are and all that we hope to be. A talisman for all the ways we are fallible yet willing to forgive ourselves and others so that hurt sticks only long enough for the lesson to be learned.