A flat tire is something of an unspoken ‘masculinity test’.
The night began with arguably one of the best meditation classes my temple had ever taught. Several people expressed moments of ‘touching’ the interconnectedness of everything, and the abundance of loving kindness present within themselves. Though the weather outside was cold and hostile, we were held in the warm embrace of feeling like maybe we weren’t as bad at this meditation thing as we previously thought.
There were hugs and a lot of laughter as we bundled up heading out into the snow to go home for the night.
The falling snow was wet and heavy, and it was coming down hard. People started scraping off their windows and turning on their car heaters when we noticed that one of us, we’ll call her ‘Kara,’ had a flat tire. Kara was new to the temple and was the kind of woman people noticed. She was very beautiful, genuinely kind and extremely single.
Kara is the type of woman men look at as a life mate, not just a hook up.
Changing a flat tire is like building a fire or grilling a steak. All men are just supposed to know how to do these things because it’s supposedly inside our DNA—along with the ability to grow facial hair.
Naturally every guy present offered to help Kara and soon there were five of us standing around her car hoping no one would notice that none of us had any idea how to change a tire. After a short debate we all concluded that a jack should be involved somehow.
Thirty minutes later, we still hadn’t managed to get the jack out of the trunk. We were now soaking wet and very cold.
It became quickly apparent that none of us were as enlightened as we previously believed, and our attempts to impress Kara were rapidly disintegrating as the minutes ticked on. Soon F-bombs and other profanities started to fly through the parking lot, as well as a surprising amount of hostility towards each other.
Kara was feeling like a burden, and probably more like a conquest than a human being.
There was a guy standing in the parking lot next to me, who less than an hour prior, I had hugged and thanked for his loving kindness.
I now wanted to punch him in the head because he couldn’t use a tire iron
How did we all lose the inner peace and Buddha nature we had just moments ago?
Finally, somehow, we got the tire changed. We were all soaked to the bone, covered in grease and grime, and frustrated because we should have all been home over an hour ago. I was watching my friend try to force the jack back into its holder, having little success, when I got the giggles. He thought I was laughing at him, which I was, and got defensive about it. Then he saw me—I mean really saw me—looking like a giant, maroon sponge in my wet meditation robes, and he got the giggles too.
Soon all of us, even Kara, were laughing and the connection we previously felt inside came flooding back.
It’s natural to feel frustration and anger, sometimes it’s even healthy to express that frustration and anger. The secret is to be able to let it go after the moment has passed, and those feelings have served their purpose.
Impermanence in all things, right?
I think about those moments in the snowy parking lot whenever my ego gets too big for me to control. If we can’t be mindful and centered when things go wrong, what does that say about our level of proficiency?
It’s easy to have Buddha nature inside the meditation hall—can we take that Buddha nature with us out into the real world?
For the record, Kara never dated any of us, and soon found a boyfriend with mechanical skills. I have since learned how to change a tire.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Alicia Wozniak/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: elephant journal archives