Wednesday, June 10, 2015

You Have Reached Your Destination

"A Moment"
- in my meditation garden -

As we begin this summer season lots of people all over the country will be packing up the car and heading out on vacation road trips to destinations far and wide – anywhere to “get away from it all.”

Nowadays almost everyone is guided by their trusty in-car GPS system telling them what highways to take, when to turn right and where to turn left, ultimately leading to the most welcome command of all: “You have reached your destination.” 

I’ve been thinking about that travel announcement about “reaching our destination.” For most of us, this never really quite happens. We travel to a destination and the minute we arrive, the anticipation of “what comes next” almost immediately begins to occupy our minds – not just when we take vacation trips but when we travel through the wilderness of life.

For many people, life is one milestone after another. They graduate from High School and immediately it’s time to begin college, they get a new job and that’s a stepping stone for the next move up the ladder, they buy a new house and then for most of the time they live there they are fixing it up to increase its sale value enabling them to move on to the next bigger and better place.

This all makes me think about some very entertaining TV commercials I get to see every evening during the local news report.  The valley where we live is populated by a significant number of older and retired people, and so every evening a host of advertisements are directed to people who want to look and feel “10 years younger.” Miracle drugs, a “nip and tuck by a local surgeon will do the trick. One ad promises: “We reverse the aging process, you will look like a kid again.” (They even show before- and-after pictures to prove it.)

Everyone seems to want to be someplace other than where they already are. So many of us seem to live everyday life with a burning desire to “get away from it all.”

“You have reached your destination” is perhaps one of the biggest myths of living in our contemporary society.

I am reminded of something the Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches about living in the present moment:

When we are not fully present, we are not really living.
We’re not really here.
And if we’re not really here then where are we?
We are running, running, running.

This little piece of wisdom may in fact be the most important piece of advice any one of us might be able to hear to help guide our busy and chaotic lives nowadays – a piece of advice we might well put into practice in these summer months of traveling from one destination to another.

Instead of running, running, running from the past, attempting to look “10 years younger,” instead of running from one job to the other, one house to the other, one destination to the other, one idea to the other, we might take these months to simply stop and practice the discipline of “being present” wherever we are.

Master Hanh suggests a simple mantra as we run and run through everyday life:

I breathe in and I breathe out grounded in wherever I am, and say:
‘I have arrived.’

What a great mantra for all our travels in life. When you hear the announcement “You have reached your destination,” believe it!  

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