Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rush Hour

"Rush Hour" 
Traffic on Highway 101 in L.A.

My rather serene and tranquil desert life gave way to chaos and frustration yesterday as I drove into Los Angeles on our famous Southern California freeways. 

Driving into L.A. is always an event, especially at "Rush Hour." Actually it's almost always "Rush Hour" on the L.A. freeways, regardless of the time of day. 

Speeding along at 75 or 80 mph in six lanes of traffic, hordes of powerful semi-trailer trucks hogging the lanes, maverick drivers recklessly cutting in front of you, everyone in a hurry to get to their destination - it's always "Rush Hour." 

Before getting onto the highways here, most people check the internet or listen to the radio or TV to see where (not "if") the latest crashes have happened, so that you can plot an alternative route, avoiding travel on that particular freeway.

My drive from the desert into the city takes about two hours, and when I finally get into L.A. I am tired and wired, and I want to sell my car.

In some ways, navigating through ordinary, everyday life is not all that different from driving in the L.A. "Rush Hour."  -  everyone insulated from one another, moving at breakneck speed, focusing on getting to the destination as fast as possible, getting cut off by bullies, those who are more powerful pushing away the weaker and marginal.  Yes, life is a "Rush Hour," and when we navigate this way, we can never enjoy the "now," the "moment," where we find that deep peace at the core of our being.

Marie Howe, one of my new favorite poets, writes about her experiences of everyday ordinary life. I love her little poem, "Hurry."

We stop at the gas station and the grocery store and the green market,
and hurry up honey, I say, hurry, hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.
Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave? To mine?
Where one day she might stand all grown?

 Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, also offers gentle wisdom about rushing along through life.

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle.
But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air,
but to walk on earth.
Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize:
a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, 
the black curious eyes of a child - our own two eyes.
All is a miracle.
Smile, breathe, and go slowly

What a blessing that I don't have to drive in "Rush Hour" today. Today I will smile, breathe, and go slowly.

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