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Step Aside

One night when I was living in Dubai, a buddy and I were walking

back to his car after an event in the heart of the city. The sidewalk was under construction and, as a result, had a fence on both sides creating a kind of long square tunnel between two blocks. Though he’d spent a great deal of his life traveling abroad, my buddy was from New York and had not lost that grit for which New Yorkers are known. He and I were walking side by side, which filled the width of the space, when a large man approached from the other direction. The guy looked like a cliché bad guy from an action movie--cigarette dangling, gold chains, even a track suit. I shifted behind my buddy to allow passage for him. But the guy didn’t shift to the open lane; he just kept walking straight toward us. I was about to shift lanes again but my buddy stayed the course, so I followed suit. Neither of the two big men stopped until the last minute, which left them face to face about one foot apart. Neither spoke. They just stood there staring at each other. Literally at an impasse. It seemed like an eternity to me, and I was gearing up for potential violence when the stranger muttered something in a language I didn’t recognize and stepped to other side of the sidewalk and walked past. Although my buddy then began to rant about the stupidity of people, there was a slight smile on his face. He believed he’d won that battle of wills.

For some reason, I woke up today thinking about this little incident and asking myself questions: Had my friend truly “won” the confrontation? What had been risked in the effort? What had the two men put out into the energy field? And, what in my life is metaphorically mirroring this situation? When do I need to stand my ground? When do I need to shift around an obstacle rather than hang onto the need for victory of will? I don’t have the answers but it seems like I was meant to think about the questions.

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