birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Loving Kindness

My mindfulness practice has helped me see strangers better. In a type of heart-cultivating practice called loving kindness mediation, you systematically send good wishes to yourself, then to a close loved one and/or benefactor, then a neutral person.

When I framed the world this way, I started to see the rhythms of us all flowing through Los Angeles. Broad Musem visitors waiting in line in 90 degrees. The six lanes of traffic that merge from Figueroa onto third onto the 110. We’re all trying to get somewhere we’re not right now.

Over time, it has become harder to forget that we all want to be happy, we all want to be seen and heard and loved.

At the same time, strangers can be the most irksome people. The other day some guy sat in the lunch place chatting with a buddy on speakerphone. I very nearly lost my mind.

It’s easy to lash out at somebody if the consequences don’t seem immediate. I guess that’s why the loving kindness is important. If I call upon it in moments where I’m building up to scream, loving kindness changes the fiery, churning feeling in my belly to one of warmth and ease.

Granted, I don’t always call upon it. But it’s there. I guess it always has been, because I think it’s in all of us.

Oh, The Places You Will Go