Being Human

Someone broke into our car. They broke a rear window and a small part of my heart. Seeing your private stuff lying all over the parking lot makes you want to yell at someone, or hide and be cautious of every person you come across in the building.

All they took was some change, garage remote, few minor things, and a pair of inexpensive sunglasses that I had just bought. Could it have been worth it for them? Instead of attending a lunch for two friends, who just moved to the area, you spend the afternoon cleaning up shards of glass from the car. Slowly separating what you want to keep from what to toss into the trash bin. You call the auto shops to find out how much the damage would cost, and how quickly they can take a look. When the best price is an hour away and first available appointment a couple of days away, you tell yourselves that it will be fine. The car with the broken window will be safe in your unsafe parking lot. What else is there to take? You empty it of all your scattered belongings and leave it unlocked, so anyone who wants to get in doesn't need to struggle.

Tunnel on the Camino de Santiago, Spain (2010)
As you are cleaning, you can't help wonder what type of a person would do this? Aside from being thoughtless and having no concern for other people’s properties, they would have to be desperate, or possibly homeless. Since there was nothing that was visible in the car, they really took a chance in breaking the window to see what they could find. They also must’ve been really scared because they did it in a hurry, not even bothering to close the doors afterward. As you imagine their life, in all your fury, you try not to curse them in your mind because they probably have it bad enough as it is. You wish you could sit them down and tell them not do this because these things have a way of getting back at us karmically. And if they’re already having issues, they can’t afford any more karmic debt. You hope they come out of their current situation, and almost wish they had stolen some of the good CD’s, maybe the chants -- because they need it more than you do.

You sweep the last pile of glass into a dustpan and pick up a "smile card" that had fallen on the floor from your car. People use these to do random acts of kindness and leave the card behind to ask the recipient to pay-it-forward to others. You stop all your activity because it dawns on you that no one must have ever done a random act of kindness for this person. This person probably does not know how it feels to truly receive something. If they did, they would know the joy that an unexpected kindness brings to the heart. They would also know that it would not feel good to receive an unwarranted unkind act like this. You feel grateful for everyone in your life, and for constantly being wrapped in their love. You wonder how you and your society have contributed to this person who feels the need to break a car window to get some change. You forgive them -- wholeheartedly. You wonder how you can contribute to a world where no one is lacking for what they really need.

Although your heart forgives this person, your mind is cautious and it doesn’t want to be caught off-guard again. As you enter your apartment, you make sure that the door is locked in case they took your address. You get up at night and check it once again. In your sleepiness, you decide that you will get a bolt on your door, so no one can break-in. The next day, you feel dreadful that you had this thought. You will not allow your heart to close-up and become small by something so tiny, and stupid as this. You remind yourself that this is a part of living in downtown, and this is not personal. You walk downstairs to your completely empty car, with a broken window to take it to the shop.

Out of habit, you reach for the small compartment above your head for the sunglasses. To your surprise -- they are there! You do a double-take and feel them a couple of times. How could this be? You try to remember if you could be mistaken. This is just not possible because you had checked three times as you cleaned your car since they were just bought the day before. It was completely empty. And you were so disappointed that they were already gone. Maybe they accidently took some of the smile cards and realized that there was an actual person who might miss those glasses, since that was the only personal item taken. You are relieved to know that they have a conscience. It makes you hopeful for their future. 

You feel that a hand has been extended, and an apology has been made. And you wish you could reach out and give them a hug, for a very long time, and let them know that everything will be all right. Maybe, like all of us, they're just trying, and being human the best that they can.


  1. Wow! What a turn of event! So sorry to hear about the act of violation, so amazed at the quick redemption, and thank you for so truthfully documenting your inner-dialogue, and the struggle to "not allow your heart to close-up and become small by something so tiny, and stupid as this."

    I only wonder what kind of good karma that has led the person to picked perhaps the best possible car to break into :) It seems that, as he broke into the car, the wholesome energy from the car (and its owners) also broke into him!

  2. Prayers to the light that shines in both of these hearts. One that touches so many other hearts with love and the one heart that got touched in such a secret way! Amazing are the ways of love. Thanks for sharing this honest reflection filled with compassion.

  3. May you always have the ability to see the world through rose-tinted or shall I say Smile-card shaded glasses.

  4. Thanks Zilong, Anuj, and Jyoti! A car in our parking lot had another break-in last night...so the situation is requiring a lot of patience on everyone's parts. We think it's a few different people.

  5. I am currently trying to be patient with a teenager who is unwilling to leave his past, who may not have experienced any love from anyone and what he is experiencing with us... he is interpreting it all wrong. Thank you for sharing this reflection and nudging me to go deeper in my own reflections. Much love.

  6. Afreen8/11/2015

    What a beautiful and deeply sincere reflection Guri! It's strange something very similar happened to be a few years ago when I lived in Oakland and used to get my car broken into regularly -- the person stole a jacket in my car, but returned it the next day, and it made me feel strangely connected to this odd kind of act of generosity :-)

  7. Dearest Guri Didi! I'm in loss of words to express the wave of emotions you just expressed.. Of all the empathy, forgiveness and compassion that you expressed, what touched me most was the way you saw it.. As if it was a story of someone else. Every moment our journey shapes us and changes us to be a different person. It's like you can never step into the same river twice since the current is constantly flowing. Thank you for reminding that we grow in depth when moments like these arrive. And it is is our hands how we respond to them.. Thank you.. For everything <3

  8. Thank you again for the reminder:-)