Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Posts tagged ‘choosing’

Life is not a highway


Funny thing about driving on the highway, and that’s people going as fast as they can. Now I don’t mean folks are holding their foot to the floor and going 120 miles an hour down Chestnut Street. Well, maybe once when I was younger…

Folks will go as fast as they’re allowed to. Somewhere just slightly over the speed limit. Most will change lanes or make for toll booths with the shortest lines. On city streets it’s the same, folks trying to go as fast as they’re allowed, tailgating others, honking horns, passing on the right.
Okay, so this isn’t a traffic safety session. Folks seem to do a number of these things “as fast as they can”. Fast food for lunch, looking for the shortest line at the checkout, googling stuff.
In my Armchair Zen world, I try to go at the pace I choose. I go as fast as I want to, not as fast as possible. Sure, power walking for cardio is good for your cardio, but for sightseeing, it’s not the same.
Do we realize how the relaxed-pace sightseeing walk can lower our blood pressure (especially if accompanied by an endearing dog).
Do we realize that we’re getting stressed (and increasing our blood pressure) by fretting over waiting in a longer line at the checkout or toll booth? Do we realize we’re stressing over seconds? Most of these things rarely will amount to as much as a minute, and extremely rare is the case where you can count more than a couple of minutes.
I’m setting my pace to that which suits me. It’s a peaceful pace, and relaxing. It’s not slow. Most folks describe my walking pace as quick, and there are lots of things I like to do quickly (a throwback to commercial kitchen work). I can zoom through a grocery store and have just what I came in for in three minutes and be in the checkout line.
What do you do once you’re in the line, or a traffic jam, or the line of cars at the toll booth or the line of traffic trying to exit the fireworks display all at the same time?
These are great places to practice simple patience. Moreover, actively decide you won’t be stressed out over these things. What can be done about it? How much time will you gain by jumping lines or weaving through traffic? Five seconds, ten?
There’s a reason retailers place a whole rasher of stuff at the checkouts. It’s called “impulse merchandise”, but I use it as entertainment and distraction. Read all the magazine titles. Look at the nifty gadgets or the newest SuperSized candy bar. The same can be done on the road. Look at the clouds (well, not while driving too much, eh?) There are birds and trees in most places, and there are always cars, trucks, boats, all kinds of things to look at.
And when moving, YOU decide the speed you want to travel. Not the speed limit or the highway traffic or that guy tailgating you.
There are times when I need to hustle, and do, without compromising driving safety or courtesy.
The rest of the time, I set my own pace.

I call it “the speed of Zen”.

Be at peace.



Choose to embrace the rain, it is life-giving and cleansing.

Choose to embrace the cold, snowy winter. It is visceral. Without winter, we cannot embrace the spring.

Choose to embrace difficulty. We have no choice when it is thrown in our path, but we can choose to attack it.

Choose to be a giver and not a taker. Give to those you love, give to those in need, give to the earth, give to life, take only what you need.

Choose to be loyal. Keep your promises. Keep confidences. Be prepared to stand silently by under the worst circumstances.

Choose to wear your brave face when I need you to, and I will wear mine when you need me too. When you are scared, I will pretend to be brave. When you are in fear, I will pretend to be fearless. When I want to run away because I am shocked or panicked, I will stand still beside you and pretend to be calm. When you die, I will pretend to be glad for you, that you have laid your burden down. You do the same for me.

Choose to embrace adversity and hardship. We are often powerless when they befall us, but we can choose our response.

Choose to embrace real life. Not television and cars and cell phones and 401k’s and Starbucks and OTB. Choose clouds and children’s laughter and fish moving silently underwater and fledgling robins their first day out of the nest and the smell of lilacs.

Choose to look death in the eye without fear. It is inevitable, and doesn’t hurt once it’s over. Samurai warriors were known to race into battle yelling “This is a good day to die!”.  Choose to believe that you, too, can have a good day to die.

Lena Horne said “It’s not the load that wears you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

President John Kennedy said “Don’t pray for easier lives. Pray to be stronger men.”

Choose to love one another. And that means everyone. If this needs explanation, you have a long way to go, but be reassured,

the path is (if you so choose) Magical.

Be at Peace,


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