Now that I am kissing close to senior citizenship, I have decided to join the NRA. Not Racing Anymore. That’s right. I’ve gone conservative.
But this one change has been extremely difficult to bring about. It is a constant war between my older self and my younger self, between my primitive side and my modern side, between my iPhone and my I.
This morning I decided, as my pool has been closed for two weeks for maintenance, to drive to the pool across the river that is nearer to the train I take to work each morning. I jumped into the unfamiliar pool to do my familiar laps. But they seem to be more obsessed with time in Tarrytown than in Nyack. Each wall has a nice big clock staring down that is hard to miss, even without glasses. So my breast stroke, back stroke, side stroke have a ticking clock as their motif.
Fine. I can attempt to ignore that. But my clever brain knows the exact time each train leaves for the city and how early or late each train gets me to work. So in my Zen swim time, instead of dreaming of daisies and mackinaws, my mind is doing calculations: 20 minutes more swimming, shower, drive to park car, walk, make this train, or don’t make that train.
I can’t help myself. I pull my goggles down and swim laps. That’ll show those clocks!! I will not fall for that time shit. NRA. I will take the time it takes to have a good swim, have a good long shower, have a good walk to the train smelling the poison ivy on the way. I will completely ignore time!
No wonder those stress marks are showing all over my little almost senior citizen body. Little physical cracks that my modern mind thinks can only be remedied with modern medicines, modern doctor’s visits, modern psychological patronization of the human spirit.
Buddhism says, “Never seek enlightenment outside of yourself,” and I know that goes for time as well. If you are in the flow of the universe, the time will be there to do what needs to be done, gloriously. You don’t have to race. You miss this train, you weren’t meant to take it; take the next one. But be in and with yourself. There is no time. Time is yours.
I know that. I don’t need a lecture. But my brain won’t shut up. Why? Because I’ve finished swimming and the clock on the dashboard tells me there’s still a chance I can make the train that will get me to work on time. I don’t care about on time. I work too hard to show up at exactly the right time. Twenty minutes late once in awhile is okay. I’m my own boss. Yet my body is quickening, my pace is speeding up. I can make it. I can still make it!
When I realize this is happening, I slow myself down. I will miss this train to make a point to myself. I will smell the poison ivy. (Turns out it doesn’t smell like much.) I am not really trying to miss the train. I am trying to experience this walk to the train fully. Fully alive. In the present moment. Now.
Tarrytown has a dry cleaners called the Clothes Doctor. How interesting. And look, that lady is walking down what could be a shortcut. She is dressed like she works in the city. I never realized that, but if I follow her this way, I might not have to cross the tracks twice. Hmm. Cute butt.
I will miss the train. I will miss this train. I don’t care if I miss this train.
It’s a fight to the death between the me that won’t slow down and the one who will still accomplish great things at no matter what pace he goes. I know that. But my monkey mind is winning.
Time is not linear, it is circular. This path is well-known, that one less so. Less well known paths generate karmic retribution. In other words, the unfamiliarity of the path, upsets the attachments and arouses doubts. This is good. There’s walking meditation, eating meditation. As soon as you empty your mind, your five senses fill it up again. No wonder the toes in my shoes feel like they’re glued together. Have you ever thought –in these narrow, stylish shoes– that you could spread your toes and walk on this earth with unfettered power?
No. Too stylish.
There’s rhythm and pattern in daily life. That’s not bad by itself. But so often that R & P lulls us to sleep. “Upset your attachments and arouse doubt?” Kick sleeping dogs? Why in the hell would you do that?
So you can experience life again.
The tracks are empty. Did the train come yet? Already gone?
A businessman dressed guy in a red shirt, tie and tan coat is drinking a very tall coffee. That’s one way. A burst of flavor, a burst of caffeine. Eyes wide open. What does it take to upset the apple cart? Any sleeping dogs lying around here? Miss the train. Miss the train. It doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter.
Who knows what fantastic voyage — heaven or hell awaits. But it will rival any quest that Bilbo Baggins ever took. It’s that mythic, it’s that epic. It’s now.
Wow. That lady is on to something. There are the stairs on this side of the tracks. Up and then down on the other side.
That’s it. That’s right. Clocks have mechanical hands that point every which way. What do they know. I don’t need clocks. I need me. Me!
The train pulls up as if it were waiting for Me to arrive. I’m in rhythm with the universe. And it’s also, amazingly enough, the train that gets me to work on time.
I slowed down. I smelled the ivy. I changed my path. I took a chance. I didn’t care. I cared too much. I made the train.
Think I’ll take a nap.