Broadway at Clark has a community garden, “La Cosecha” next to the bus stop. A car sits in its corner with the top cut off and dirt where seats should be.
This morning, remnants of the weekend’s snow fall lurk in the shadows. Fortunately there are few places to lurk as the late wintry morning light floods most of this side of the street.
Any peaceful warmth the sun may bring, however, is ignored by the endless and overfed traffic. Clark is the main artery for industry in east Vancouver. It’s the kind of road whose flow rips with the dirty roar of metal combustion and a speedy indifference to the stillness of its salt-sprayed sidewalks.
Some busy roads offer the personable context of community: Large sidewalks with cafe destinations here. Not even a spring-time version of the roadside garden can outweigh the onslaught of this road, though. Its business is a destination sustained only by a noise that industrial city angst can maintain.
Today, I wait foolishly hoping that the sun may banish, however slowly, the chill from the wind sneaking around the glass sides of the bus shelter. The traffic monster next to me drones on with its technological existential crisis. Movement captures my attention as I turn away from it.
An old Chinese lady in a burgandy jacket sits cross-legged on her balcony facing the sun. Her eyes are shut and she rolls back and forth on her seat transfixed. I can’t tell if she is crazy, just trying to stay warm or engaged in some practiced exercises. I decide that it would be better for the world if it were the latter.
So with my decision, at once I am impressed with the humour and beauty of the situation. She is obviously passed the needless worry of self-consciousness that plagues spiritual practice and youth in western society. She is in clear sight of a busy intersection that wouldn’t have time to notice anyway.
On the one hand, what kind of meditative peace could you possibly find next to the hungry traffic monster caged in cement, meridian dividers and paint? And on the other, what could be more symbolic of the conceptual struggle between movement and stillness?
I’m astounded by the easy power it would take to turn the roar into some white noise, some ocean. She sits next to that mechanical river of contemporary life and prays to the morning light while I jump in, carried away on a numbered boat and can’t pull my mind from its flow.