Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dharma in the driver's seat

Dharma and driving

Last weekend I had a perfect New York weekend, the stuff travel articles are spun from: Broadway matinee, drinner with friends, drinks at a dark and crowded bar, followed the next day by a long walk in the park, more food and drinks and a fabulous chocolate dessert. We had good transportation karma all weekend long, never waiting more than. few minutes for a train.

Then came the drive home. About half- way up Interstate 91 to my central Connecticut home, traffic stopped. Then crept. I sat for the first few minutes with equanimity. Things have stowpped; may it be a reminder to wake up and be in the moment. Then I started to feel frustrated. Why are we not moving? What is the problem here?

My frustration built up a head of steam until my internal voice said,"I can't stand this," and my wisdom laughed. Really? You can't stand sitting still in the car? You can't STAND the uncertainty of not knowing when you'll get to move? Really? Not even after all those hours of sitting on retreat or in classes, wondering when the umdze will ring the gong?

My consciousness got the joke. Frustration lifted.

I noticed cars around me. I giggled at the "Extended Stay" motel sign, which seemed to be an omen. I sent out loving kindness to the other drivers, and noted that everyone was behaving very nicely. I mumbled, "Careful,dude," to drivers who cut between lanes. (I consciously started calling other drivers "dude" instead of my usual "dickhead" a while back in an effort to create a kinder attitude.)

I contemplated doing tonglen for whoever caused the backup, but I'd heard rumors of off-hours construction and wn't sure that anyone was in danger. My Smartphone showed a hazard without further explanation.

It took about an hour to travel the distance between two exits. At some point traffic just started speeding up, with no wreckage, no nothing to blame for the congestion and frustration.

Life's like that sometimes. We encounter obstacles -- or create obstacles in our minds -- and the frustration we feel becomes the obstacle. But if you can relax into it, look at what's happening in the moment, sometimes it just eases.

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