zen wisdom from a nyc taxi driver...

Yesterday, in the span of 10 minutes, I was gifted the secret to a happy marriage, reminded of the single most important thing in life, and uplifted by a one sentence sermon on humanity that I’m pretty sure would end all conflict in the world, were we open to adhering to it. 

Thank you, Pedro the cab driver, for sharing your wisdom with me.

It never ceases to amaze me that in the course of several minutes, in between horns blaring and brakes creaking and windows being rolled down or up, you can discover so much about a complete stranger that upon leaving, you’re buoyed up by humanity you’ve just discovered in one another. All within the confines of a New York City taxi cab.

I love New York. Chelsea. By Amy Flyntz.

I love New York. Chelsea. By Amy Flyntz.

As I learned that Pedro has three grown daughters—top tier and Ivy League graduates, all—we swapped anecdotes about where we grew up and how long we’ve been in New York. We talked about his being married for 31 years, and how in three decades, he’d only been away from his wife for 6 consecutive days. 

I shook my head and smiled. “So what’s the secret to a happy marriage, Pedro?” 

“Trust,” he nodded. “And also, no one is perfect. What’s the word…” he trailed off, mumbling in Spanish. “Humility!” 

He smiled in the rearview mirror, his confidence restored by locating the correct word in English. “No one is perfect. I can’t ask my wife to be perfect because I’m not perfect. You have to have humility. And you have to play!” 

I laughed. 

“Nothing is more important than family, Mami,” Pedro said, meeting my eyes in the mirror. “La familia! You can have all the money in the world but if you don’t have family, you got nada. You have nothing.

“Yes!” I nodded. “I just came from seeing my family. Family is the most important thing.”

As we neared my apartment, our conversation meandered to the diversity of New York.

“I love New York. I love the noises. I’m not ready for quiet!” Pedro laughed. “And I love people. Every day, I meet people. We’re all different, Mami, you know? But you know what I say?”

I grinned. “What?” I asked. 

“We’re all different, si. But we all see the same doctor.”

And there it was. Out of the mouth of a gregarious man named Pedro, a simple truth that could solve the myriad crises of our war-torn world. 

If only we’d make the time to listen.