- At the Desert Retreat House -
Most every day my life is filled with the sights and sounds of the desert where I live - breezes rustling in the palms, a solemn silence, serene skies as the sun goes down. Yesterday my senses were in for quite a shock because we had to travel up to Los Angeles which involves a trek on the infamous Southern California highway system.
As it turned out we were misfortunate enough to be driving yesterday during the dreaded L.A. "rush hour." I had forgotten how chaotic and grueling "rush hour" can be.
The 10-lane highway looked more like a parking lot as we inched along in bumper-to-bumper traffic for almost two hours. Horns were honking, the smell of gas and diesel pierced the air, cars readily "cut me off" as they weaved from lane to lane; and beside all this, the setting sun was blinding me.
As I drove along I kept complaining to my wife: "I sure don't miss driving in this, if we had been back home we would be enjoying the sunset instead of complaining about the blinding light." I didn't want to be there, I wanted it to end, I wanted the chaos to go away. But I was then struck with the realization that no matter how chaotic it was and regardless of how much I didn't want to be there, all that nasty traffic and bad driving wasn't about to magically disappear and I was in the midst of it, like it or not.
I suddenly remembered something Ekhart Tolle once said:
Whatever the present moment contains,
embace it as if you had chosen it yourself.
What you resist, persists
What you resist, persists
My experience in the chaos yesterday was a good discipline for living more fully in the everyday circumstances of life.
From time to time we all find ourselves in situations that we wish would go away - every one of us has good times and bad times, moments of serene sunsets and moments when pain, anxiety and suffering come along. But whether good or bad, each moment simply "is what it is," and it's rather ludicrous to resist what is, wishing it would magically go away or pretending it isn't happening.
As I drove along in the chaos yesterday I also remembered something I read in a magazine of Buddhist essays. The author talked about her experiences in a busy airport as she missed her flight and waited for hours for another flight that was seriously delayed. She talked about how stressed out and anxious she felt and then she decided not to resist it but embrace it. So she developed this little mantra that she would utter from time to time especially as her flight continued to be delayed, and in doing so she not only found a sense of serenity but was even able to find joy in her experiences.
May I meet this moment fully.
May I meet it as a friend.
I adopted the use of that little mantra yesterday as I drove through all the chaos. Before I knew it we were at the exit.
What you resist, perists.