The Wisdom of Taxi Drivers – December 2016
Dear all, something shifted in me this weekend. I’ve been feeling and reeling with the recent shifts in the political level of reality we live within. I’ve yelled and danced my rage and grief and cried my heart out for all the people who worked so hard for so many long years to create the Paris Climate Change agreement, for our planet itself, for all the people who feel bereft, shaken, scared and unsafe, both in our Brexit Britain, in the US, in the countries bordering Russia and all over.
I see this time as a time of deep change. In the dissolution of old systems and assumptions about what we can take for granted, there is both great opportunity and grave danger. What meaning and priorities shape the new? The hope I feel is that the extremity of the situation wakes us up to the need for action, the need for engagement. We cannot rely on others to “hold the fort”. As the Pachamama Alliance says: “The future is in our hands”. The sense I have of people, both younger and older waking up to engage with what is happening, to play a role, gives me hope and joy. Let us not “fiddle whilst Rome burns”.
From this and from many chance encounters recently (taxi drivers, fellow diners in restaurants) as well as with the MM field of people, I feel a renewed sense of our human goodness, power, big heartedness and willingness to stand up now and take our place in the shaping of the future. It’s in our hands. All of our hands. As Lynne Twist says, “You have a role to play, it’s not a small role, it’s not a big role, it’s your role, and if you play it, your life will have a meaning you’ve dreamt of”. I am proud and happy that Movement Medicine gives people a space in which to connect with their soul purpose in life, and the meaning of their lives that they dream of.
Here is some surprising wisdom, gleaned recently from two taxi drivers and two fellow diners in a restaurant:
Taxi driver wisdom:
This conversation started because I appreciated how smoothly this driver glided around a bus as it slowed down to stop. He told me about the experienced taxi driver’s unconscious skill at computing speeds and spaces and taking the smoothest route through space and time in the fast changing landscape of the road with total sureness of the precise dimensions of his vehicle, almost as if it had become an extension of his own body. This guy had breathtaking skill and it was a pleasure to appreciate the level of his skill.
He told me about one ride he had given, in which he had picked people up in Canary Wharf and got them to Covent Garden in 15 minutes so that they got there in time for the theatre. One of these passengers looked him in the eye, shook his hand and told him: “That was amazing what you just did!” and gave him a £20 tip. He told me how, though he doesn’t expect his passengers to be paying attention to his driving, to have his skill appreciated by someone who realised what was involved meant a lot to him. He said this moment and this man had restored his faith in humanity, and that this was his own commitment in life; to restore other people’s faith in humanity by doing simple, old fashioned things like keeping his word. He said: ”These are big words I am saying to you, I know, but nonetheless they are true”.
Then this morning another driver and another conversation inspired by the night before. I mentioned my thoughts about taxi drivers and how they weave through London connecting and meeting so many different people, like the neurons of the collective “brain” that is London. I said I thought taxi drivers must have accumulated a lot of wisdom. He asked me if I wanted to know his. “Yes!” I said; “Of course!” I wished I had been recording what he said, but here it is as well as I can render it. “Every morning I make a choice. I ask myself, am I going to be happy today?” Normally, I choose to be happy. It’s a choice! And what I notice is that, if I don’t, and have a grumpy day, 99% of people who get in my cab are grumpy too. And we just get worse together.” I asked him “How do you think that works? What do you reckon the mechanics of it are?” “You want to know what I really think?” “YES!” “I think, when I’m grumpy the aura of my taxi, the energy field [that’s really what he said] call it what you like but you know what I mean, this whole space in my taxi is infected by my grumpiness, like a big, dark cloud and that brings out their grumpiness. It’s quite practical, if I smile and am polite and helpful, they, not always, but normally, get with my vibe and are happy, relaxed and polite too. And the reverse.” I told him about the other taxi driver’s commitment to restore other people’s faith in humanity, and he said: “That’s IT, yes”. He had waited for me somewhere which required some faith in me not to run off without paying him. I asked him why he’d chosen to trust me. Rather than tell me something about me, he simply said;
“I choose to see the good in people. If they let me down, that is their loss. I might be pissed off, not that that happened, but that I made a mistake. But what have I really got to lose? I would prefer to lose your fare than to lose my choice to see the good in you”. I take my hat off to these two taxi drivers of London for sharing their wisdom and doing a lot to restore my faith in this global moment of shaking.
And two fellow diners in a special restaurant. They were farmers, and were celebrating their wedding anniversary. We were celebrating the completion of module 1 of our Continued Professional Development. This was a real milestone for us in bringing the underlying assumptions and skills that inform our work into consciousness, so that we can pass it on. What an extra-ordinary group of people we are blessed to work with. Thank you all! So, these farmers shared two things that have stuck with us. The independently minded, strong and thoughtful woman had just been away by herself for a weekend (she’d been to a cookery course) for the first time in her 37 years of marriage.
Him: As you get older, you come to respect life so much more. You see a rabbit on the road, and you almost cause an accident by not wanting to run it over”
Her: “That’s the amazing thing about life, just not knowing, and then discovering, what people are really capable of.”
Wishing you all a wonderful end to the year and joyful festivals of light in the dark time of year. Here’s to many miracles in 2017.
Susannah DK. December 2016
Forthcoming workshops with Susannah:
December 17: Fusion with Susannah and Ya’Acov. Geneva, Switzerland.
For this day in dance and body the focus will be on the presence and the balance of yin and yang energies and qualities in our selves and in our lives. It is this sweet middle between the acceptance of yin and the direction and action of yang which brings us to this fusion of both these opposing forces in life.
Contact Veronique: +33 7 81 46 57 49, firstname.lastname@example.org
December 18–22: Returning Home with Susannah and Ya’Acov. Waldhaus, Switzerland.
During this winter solstice gathering we take time to give thanks to and honour what has been and to nurture ourselves with community and dance practice during the shortest days of the year. We listen to our winter dreams that may wish to be seen and heard and plant any new seeds for a new year and a new cycle ahead.
Contact Roland: +44 1803 762255, email@example.com
January 25–28: Winter Dream Dance (Apprentices only) with Susannah and Ya’Acov. Rill Estate, Devon, UK.
This is a gathering where any MM Apprentices and teachers meet and rejoice in their connection, support and community. As a winter dance, this is an invitation to turn inward and to nourish and be held by the practice shared, and to experience and be part of our dances and dreams weaving together.
Contact Roland: Contact Roland: +44 1803 762255 firstname.lastname@example.org