And So It Is, Forgiveness, Inspiration, Owning It!

How Kindness Works.

February 8, 2013

I got in a car accident the other night.

I was driving to teach my yoga class and just short of making it there I saw a car in front of me stopped. I stopped in time so as not to hit the car. The car in back of me however, slammed into me. The first word out of my mouth was Fuck and then my body shook.. My phone flew under the brake and the car got stuck in reverse and started rolling backward and tapped the car that had smashed into me and then a pretty woman cop was at my passenger window and mouthing something as she mimed a motion that probably said Roll down your window or Calm down. I shook harder. She came over to my side and got in (I must have gotten out at some point) and she got the car unstuck and moved it to the side of the road and the other drivers and I congregated on the curb. I was trying to call Equinox to tell them I had been in an accident and couldn’t get there to teach my yoga class but the guy cop was yelling at me to get off my phone and that he had been doing this too long or something like that. I couldn’t hear. I could hear but I couldn’t listen rather. I was gone. Somewhere else.

When she slammed into me maybe I died or maybe I floated away but when the cop said that no one was injured so he wouldn’t take a police report but that we had to get each other’s information I just nodded Uh-huh and shook. I was the only one panicking. And I kept saying I am sorry because we had all been in an accident and wasn’t that the polite thing to do? No one else said I am sorry so when I came home and told my husband I started to obsess that once again I had screwed up. I had opened my big mouth and because of being a people pleaser I was going to be at fault. I was going to jail. I was wrong. I messed up. Someone crashes into me and I apologize?

I haven’t been able to get out of bed for two days. I was depressed and my back hurt terribly from the impact. I was feeling sorry for myself and vulnerable and terrified to drive. Something this small rocked me so hard I thought. What exactly am I made of?

Why did I apologize? Apologizing denotes guilt. I was the only one that said I am sorry. I also noted that night the irony that I was the yoga teacher and the most freaked out. They were both so calm as if they’d had many car accidents and this was just another rung on the bedpost. The girl who hit me, her hood was smashed badly, and yet she seemed bored and un-phased. Me? I drifted into oblivion when she crashed into me and headed straight for my bed where I have yet to emerge.

It takes such little to shake me. My iPad gets lost or stolen (I will never know) and I have an accident and poof! I am bed-ridden, lost, scared of my shadow as well as the rain and the cars on the road and the idea of waking up in the morning, of being up with the lark.

While I was lying in bed yesterday and feeling this overwhelming sense of what’s it all for anyway? I posted on my Facebook the following question:

What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?

I don’t know why I asked it. I was in a foul people-hating mood. Maybe that is precisely why I asked it. Maybe I needed a reminder of kindness.

So I am laying in bed and the heat is blasting even though it wasn’t cold and I live in Southern California, and I am sweating and freezing and I start to cry reading the responses from my Tribe on Facebook.

Here’s one:

Nicole Markardt I was in a horrible car accident when I was 18. My back broke in 2 places, lying on a beach after the car rolled off of a bridge. A man ran through traffic… ran down rocks to the beach and back into traffic to flag down anyone that could call an ambulance ( pre cell phone). He gave me CPR. He even brought me flowers in the hospital. His name was Gabriel. Like the archangel. He cried when he saw I survived. I believe in the kindness of strangers.

I wanted to believe in the kindness of people again. Someone used my iPad on Monday so it obviously wasn’t coming back. Someone crashed into me and whether it was an accident or not did not say I am sorry. So many crap things happening and if I keep looking I will keep finding them. 

We find what we look for.

I broke into my ex-boyfriend’s apartment once. I used a credit card to unlock his door and let myself in.

He forgave me eventually. We had a big fight and he called me crazy and told me to get out but, eventually, we made up and went on to have about 2 years of more of the same, minus the “breaking in” with the credit card.

I didn’t think of it as breaking in at the time. He’d never use keys to let himself in his own apartment. We would come back to his place and he would slide a credit card through the space between the doorjamb and the door and voila! The door would open. It made him proud how easy it would be to rob his place. 

I had never thought of it as breaking in until he said that. I simply thought I was being cute. How could it be breaking in when the credit card was the way we always got in the door? The credit car was the key!

Except I knew. I knew he would be upset. I knew he never wanted me to stop by un-announced or call him my “boyfriend” but I did it anyway. I had such an adrenaline rush as I was sliding that card through the crack in the door that my whole body shook  like it did in the accident but worse.

Find what you are looking for.

I knew I could possibly catch him cheating. He was in bed though when I slid the credit car through the door and walked in. Asleep. He jumped up when I crawled in next to him and called me crazy and said that I broke in and that I needed to get out.

Look for someone to disappoint you hard enough and they will.

On some level, I knew he would react exactly how he did, but, since there are always two of us (at least) I ignored Voice #1 and went instead with Voice #2 in hopes I would catch him fucking someone else or doing something awful and I could say Uh-huh! People suck. You let me down. I knew it! People will fail you. See?

But he was asleep and he kicked me out and eventually we made up and went on to have a disastrous coupe of years but I think back on how I really let him down. His rules may have stank and he may have been a jerk but who was I to let myself in when he never gave me that permission, no matter how cute I thought it would be?

I wanted to fail.

I wanted to prove that people suck. Even me.

Yesterday I laid in my bed and posted that question on Facebook because I needed a reminder of the good in the world.

That’s why I said I was sorry when I was in the middle of the accident sandwich. I wasn’t at fault but I thought it was the human thing to do. The kind thing to do.

I don’t know. I don’t know if kindness counts much in the legal system but I stand by why I said it. Not all people suck. Some do. Can I say that as a yoga teacher? ( I just did, so I guess so.)

I don’t suck. 

I am kind. 

And there is a lot of kindness around us. It moved me to read about the things people posted on my Facebook and it reminded me how all we have to do is hear about it, read about, witness it, and kindness will live inside us. We don’t even have to be the one the kindness is meant for specifically, and yet and still, it will live somewhere within us as if it was meant for us specifically. That’s how it works.


You Might Also Like

No Comments

  • Reply Courtney Galloway February 8, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    You did a kindness to me a few days ago that left me in a bit of a daze a shock – not for how people can let you down, but for how people can surprise you with their kindness. You didn’t have to do it. I wouldn’t have thought any less of you if you hadn’t. I’d not been expecting or even anticipating it. That’s how these things work though, for good and for ill. Not all people suck, but some do. Some choose to suck, because they’d rather cause the hurt than be hurt. They think it makes them safer or stronger or something. You don’t suck. And you serve as a light in the dark for others to know it’s ok to be kind. That there is strength in being open. That being nice in this world not only counts, but is a verifiable act of courage. Stay you…I happen to think she’s a pretty awesome woman!

  • Reply jamesvincentknowles February 8, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    I know exactly what you mean about all that shakiness & wanting to please others & knowing some get it & some don’t. Most do, surprisingly enough. It’s a surprise to me anyway. How being you & being true to you & having the whatsit wherewithal to still be kind when somewhere inside ya think, shit, I’m in trouble now.

    Saying I’m sorry in a situation like that is perfectly fine, a perfectly fine way to be kind.

    And lookkit, look just how fun all this is to read about~!!

    To me, the most remarkable thing about you is you go teach yoga anyway. You never stay down & you don’t become angry & or any of those things many others do. You just keep slidin’ straight through all the crap.

    Pretty effin’ cool.

  • Reply Paige February 8, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Sweet Jennifer, So sorry to hear. Of course it’s ok to say I’m sorry. That doesn’t mean you are at fault, it justs means you are sorry it happened. Big hearts think and say as you do. Thank you for one of the most enjoyable weekends. I am still feeling the vibration. No, I don’t believe kindness means anything in the legal system, the legal system is about the law, not what’s right or wrong. Your system, a living and caring system, with a caring heart makes life worth living. Rest and heal your beautiful body and spirit. I gave you that red pin to remember you are loved. Rest up. I will send a gentle healing breeze to you. xoxo

  • Reply Danny Nicola February 8, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Jen, your acts of kindness have helped me carry myself out of darkness and doubt. The other day I was with my drummer reading a list of songs for my band that I had written in a journal (to get an inventory of songs.) What I wrote below that is now a current inventory of blessings I have come to receive from YOUR exercise of thanking the Universe in advance! Those things I wrote in the journal have come to pass and more are in the works! I don’t know the quote verbatim, but I will continue to send joy, love, gratitude, & light – so that in case I run out one day I will find it in another. Thank you so much for being you and helping me gain to courage to fly!!! Much love<333

  • Reply barbarapotter February 8, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    It is never wrong to say I am sorry to others.
    Not everyone deals well with accidents and things that suddenly rock their world but you
    Don’t let it control you and you let it go in a short period of time. We are not all rocks who are not affected by things not do we want to be. Your kindness always shines through

  • Reply Jo Ellen Corcoran February 9, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Hi Jen.. You have an amazingly compassionate nervous system.. You are your calmest when you are sharing your love in a compassionate way.. Of course you were sorry.. Sorry for the shakiness everyone felt.. Some people aren’t even aware they are “shook up” until later.. Sometimes much later.. You are sensitive and you simply “get things”. Bingo, my spinal column has been abruptly jarred.. A car ran into my car.. I’m shaking.. I’m sorry for every car accident that happens.. That, Jen, is the level of Your Compassion.. Love you and saying prayers of comfort for you..

  • Reply authenticalive February 9, 2013 at 12:39 am

    Jen… May your nervous system be at rest as I am flooding it with love… You see way beyond in every experience.. Your compassion is sorry for all pain… And you always find the blessing.. a gifted woman often living in vulnerability.

  • Reply chissotti1012 February 9, 2013 at 6:37 am

    Jen, I hope you are okay-I got hit from behind almost two Springs ago and am still aware of the jolt and it impact on my body-my left low back has not been the same-I too was rushing to teach class, so in the moment I was concerned to get to class and too shocked to notice the physical consequence of the hit-Only after did I start to feel it -I had a lot of chiropractic help for everything and my neck too, is definitely more sensitive -I am sorry you had such an experience-you said you were sorry, because that is the genuine loving person you are-you were sorry that everyone had to be put in such a scary place and that is the caring thing to say, unfortunately you just can’t control other people’s behavior, but you and the Dali Lama choose ” kindness is my religion ” so be kind to yourself and the incredible , beautiful and inspiring person that you are-you are not to blame, you said sorry, because it was an unfortunate thing-you panicked, because you are not tuned out, but connected to the gift and fragility of life and not numbed out-there is a big difference between calm and numbed out-you panicked, because your body is also part of your livelihood -you need to have it stay healthy and strong-you panicked because you are human and that is what makes you so special-you are human, you care, you love, you let yourself be vulnerable and alive and do many people don’t ever find that-they should be sorry, they didn’t realize what a light was standing there with them -I know at times, it gets discouraging , but just remember, You are not Alone, but tremendously loved and supported -I hope you feel better soon-love -ella*

  • Reply lisa simmons February 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    well done. well said. perfect.

  • Reply Liz Bird February 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I love your blog. I love u. Nothing I rather read the Jennifer Pastiloff anything. Your honesty moves & touches me always, because you are saying what we all keep inside, better than we could say it.

  • Reply Jean February 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm


    There is a quote,something to the effect that greatness in a person is not achieved through power,wealth, ambition,etc. It is achieved through kindness.

    You extended your kindness and compassion to those people at the accident site, and your kindness pours out upon your readers with every honest, soul searching, precious word you write.

    Be comfortable with your response at the accident site. It was genuine; it was “great.”

    Let your body heal from this jolt and rest assured that your mind is totallly in the right place.

    Thank you for this wonderful blog. Your words have helped me so much.



  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.