Keeping it real
This is a true story. It’s about the things we can’t see because we’re simply not looking or because some real spiritual work needs to be done to open our eyes.
On a recent Sunday morning in Jerusalem, I came down the stairs of our building and realized something was missing – my bike. It was my car and my mule. It took me places and hauled loads of groceries and other items here and there.
Our neighbor said he hadn’t seen it at 7pm the previous Friday evening and so I figured it had been stolen sometime between 1:30pm when I came back from doing errands and then.
On the one hand, it wasn’t such a big deal because someone leaving the country had given me the bike nearly 20 years ago and since then, it needed maintenance, but it treated me well and I truly got the most I could out of it. When I would bring it into the bike shop for a tune-up and tell them, ‘Let me know what I need,’ they would always say, ‘You need a new bike.”
I would always respond, “Let’s squeeze one more year out of it.” We’ve been having the same conversation for ten years.
The frustrating part now was going to have to search for a ‘new old’ bike. New ones are simply too expensive. More frustrating would be all the time I would no longer save getting on my bike to ride to work or do quick errands here and there. Walking is nice, but riding here and there gets things done faster and saves a lot of time. The bike is even better than a car in the city. I hate traffic.
The more I thought about it, replaying my actions in my head, I realized I had been so tired when I came back from those errands that Friday and I think I was also post-COVID brain, so much so that maybe I forgot to lock it up and someone wandered in and grabbed the bike when they had the chance.
In the meantime, as I wondered if the thief was still around, I warned the neighbors someone was stealing things and let the new reality set in.
As I mentioned, I noticed the bike missing on Sunday morning. A few days later, on Tuesday evening, I was walking down the street rushing to a meeting when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bike in my path and not just any bike. It was my bike! Right in front of me.
It was leaning against a pedestrian guard rail in plain sight across the street from the local makolet (local small grocery store)! How could this be?!
I looked across the street at the makolet, thinking they have surveillance cameras, and that maybe they had captured who had taken my bike and who, apparently, had brought it back. (I knew it wasn’t worth much! Who would steal such a thing?).
Ironically, this all happened during several days when I had planned to take the bus to work in order to pick up the kids from summer camp. That meant I wasn’t going to be using the bike much, so this was all good timing.
I took the bike and walked over to the makolet and said to the owner’s son, who I know, “You see this bike?…” and just before I could ask about the cameras, he cut me off saying, “That bike has been sitting next to the store on the sidewalk unlocked since Friday.”
I told him I just found it across the street and he said, “Someone must have just moved it. It was here all the time.”
I then realized that the previous Friday when I was doing errands, I had stopped at the makolet and must have been so tired, I had left my bike there! I even walked the few buildings home up the street without it – even wearing my helmet!
Since then, the bike had sat on the sidewalk for four days unlocked and nobody stole it (and that’s probably because there’s no better place to forget your bike than in front of an area with surveillance cameras! How convenient!!! In America, they call it a ‘convenience store’, don’t they?)
So who stole my bike? I stole my bike. I am the thief!
What’s even crazier is that I myself walked by my bike at least six times since I thought it was stolen and didn’t see it because I thought it was stolen. I was living in a reality where it didn’t exist, yet it was right under my nose. I could not see it because I was not living the reality where it existed.
Only when someone moved it directly in my path, in plain sight, just at the right moment when I would be passing by, were my eyes opened, and I could see what was really going on. Yes, it was in my path for four days, literally not more than two feet away from me at times, but it somehow blended in with everything else. I was not open to the reality it was not stolen.
Hashem obviously had a lesson here and when I didn’t pick up on what was going on, He said, ‘What’s up with this guy?’ He then sent a messenger to move the bike right in from of me, making it crystal clear.
And the message is very clear now.
Our realities are not what they always seem, and it sometimes takes a lot of work to reach a place where we can see what’s really going on.
And I clearly have a lot of work to do.
Blessed be He, the Creator, who teaches us amazing things in ways we can see and value, without causing us stress, pain, or anguish.
Even for a bike thief like me.