Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Traffic Jam

Last weekend I had the privilege of being stuck in traffic on the 101 South at Calabasas. If I had know I was going to be there for 3.5 hours, I doubt it would have been as an enjoyable experience as it turned out to be. The 1st hour was annoying, but with a sense of hopefulness. It wasn't until I got a cell signal was able to call my friend, waiting at my destination of Venice beach, that I learned that a jack-knifed truck had taken out the center median. If I could just hang on until I made it past Calabasas Parkway, the way would be clear.

Up until this point I waffled between waiting and taking the next exit. Having been an outside sales rep in the LA area years before, I took traffic jams personally. I had made it a point to know all the side streets to avoid being stuck like a typical tourist. Remembering this, I moved over to the far left lane. “There,” I thought, “you are waiting on an LA freeway just like everyone else. Deal with it.”

Surprisingly I was only frustrated for about 10 minutes. Otherwise I enjoyed the wait while I took in the view of the beautiful hills at sunset, people watched, cleaned the change out my cup holder, and deleted song ideas from my digital recorder. When traffic completely stopped, I got out of my car and stretched. I had plenty of time to write an appreciation list, with my entry about the young man skipping and smiling between the cars, at the top.

This rearranging of my waiting psyche has everything to do with living life as an art. It means taking time to surrender to the moment, instead of trying to escape or avoid discomfort. Of course, I would have rather not been on the freeway for 3.5 hours. And if I had known ahead of time, I would have resisted my fate.

Avoidance of discomfort by constant activity tells the body that the present moment is something to get away from, rather than surrendering to. It has been over a week since I sat on that freeway. Since then, I notice my daily resistance whether I am eating, stretching, reading, or planning. Regardless of the task, I have trained myself to believe there is something better than what is happening, now.

How do you bring yourself back to the present moment?

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