Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Pray for patience, God puts you in a traffic jam."



The above quote is one of my favorite sayings because I find it to be so true, time and time again. When you're really trying to change, the Universe has a way of throwing you into the fire to see how much you really mean it. And it makes sense - it's easy to be Zen sitting in a field on a calm sunny day; the real test comes when you're in that bumper to bumper traffic, or stuck in line at the grocery store, or trying to get your food out of the kitchen at 20 minutes when you realize Sauté hasn't even started your Picatta. Because that's where it matters. Unfortunately, we don't get to spend our whole lives in the sunny field - that's just not the way life seems to work. We can cultivate pleasant environments and situations, we can seek out respite, but at the end of the day there will always be turmoil and loss. It's just part of the package.

That brings me to my current situation: we're over two weeks into the New Year, which is a pretty good time to check in with those New Year's Resolutions. Flossing? Check. Not letting crap pile up around the house? Doing okay, could be better. Maintaining Zen Master calm and tranquility throughout every workday no matter what the situation? Well….

It seems that no sooner had I made maintaining calm a priority then I was hit with a rapid succession of mis-run food, quadruple seating, horrible tips (with some flat-out stiffs), and a myriad of other assorted annoyances. And that's when you get to see how much (or how little) you've grown. Some nights I've been able to laugh it off. Some nights I've been running around cursing fiercely under my breath. And some nights it's been a little of both. Part of my whole point with Zen and the Art of Waitering is that there are definitely actions we can take, preparations and organizing, to prevent problems before they occur or to mitigate them as they come up. That's one part. The other part is accepting those things you cannot change, and then letting them go - completely, and without looking back. It's that combination of action and acceptance that makes Zen such an effective way of dealing with the world. But it's not a mystical state of being that we magically attain after meditating x-number of hours (at least, it hasn't been for me yet). Action is a choice. Acceptance is a choice. Zen is a choice. They are choices we must make again and again, no matter what the situation. Easier said then done, but that doesn't mean we should stop trying.