In my twenties I picked up a book by a well-loved Tibetan-Buddhist Rinpoche (monk). He told a story about how he was waiting outside of his house at the curb for a cab driver to pick him up and take him to the airport. The cab driver was late, and when he did arrive, he talked a lot and drove quite slowly. The monk told the driver kindly that he needed to catch a flight at a specific time, which was nearing closer, in hopes that the driver would talk a little less and drive a little faster. The driver continued to talk and drive slowly. The Rinpoche wrote that it was possible he was going to miss his flight, and he fully accepted that fact, as he calmly sat in the back of the cab watching the scenery, listening to the cab driver talk, and staying present.
My twenty-year-old self had to put the book down. I literally could not fathom the monk’s attitude. Sit calmly? Stay present? You’re going to miss your flight!
I thought of my reaction. I would’ve stood at the curb, heart racing with rage and dread about missing my very important flight, and I would have let that cab driver know it. I would have been supremely annoyed, and I would have told the driver to hurry the hell up, and most likely, be quite rude and impatient.
How was it that this monk was not negatively affected by the situation at all? I didn’t get it. Not only did I not get it, I thought it was impossible.
Fast forward to becoming a mom, which is a life-long lesson on patience, and living out some pretty bizarre, unjust, and sometimes harrowing life events, that were also filled with love, and now I get it.
There is no escape from the teeter-totter of pain and joy of living on this planet.
Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle says – you don’t need to accept an undesirable or unpleasant life situation, nor do you need to deceive yourself and say that there is nothing wrong. You can narrow down your attention to the present moment without labelling it in any way. Drop the judgement. Drop the resistance to what is. Then take positive action. Positive action is far more effective than negative action which arises out of anger, despair, or frustration.
This is my practice.
To remind myself over and over and over again to stay present to all that unfolds before me.