Tuesday, January 19, 2016

On the Road Again

"A Quiet Moment"
- At the Desert Retreat House -

I have to drive up to LA today. Honestly I would rather spend the day in the quiet of my desert home rather than having to contend with eight lanes of rush hour traffic. At least I have my GPS system to help me make my way through all the intricate highways. 

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 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 or go on business trips, but when we travel through all the many highways of everyday life.

For many people, life is one milestone after another. We graduate from High School and immediately it’s time to begin college, we get a new job and that’s a stepping stone for the next move up the ladder, we buy a new house and then we are constantly fixing it up to increase its sale value enabling us 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 and a “nip and tuck” by a local surgeon promise to “do the trick.” One ad even claims: “We will 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.

“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. In fact, as I travel up to LA today I will take it to heart while I am on the road.

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 - take a deep breath, simply stop running and practice the discipline of “being present."

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!  

1 comment:

  1. Love the Hanh suggestion of just saying 'I have arrived'. I'm here! Hurray!