Don't Wait: Pause.
A few years ago I came across a wonderful essay by David Cain titled "How to Walk Across a Parking Lot." I know, the title doesn't sound very inviting. It's appropriate though, as the essay is exactly that - a set of instructions for parking your car, getting out and walking across the lot. It is, of course, a lesson in being mindful as we do even the most mundane of activities.
There is one passage from the essay that particularly struck me:
Park. Turn off the ignition. Before you exit the carriage, pause for a moment. Now, I should clarify that by pause I don’t mean “wait.” There is nothing to wait for if you are pausing. To pause is to stop and pay attention. To wait is to stop your body while you continue to the next moment in your head. For a proper parking-lot-crossing — or a proper anything-else — we want to avoid this.
This distinction between pausing and waiting is an important one. When we are waiting we are waiting for something. Our mind is elsewhere, not where we are. When we pause we are making a choice to be present.
Sometimes when meditating my mind goes forward and waits for the bell. When I am doing this, I am elsewhere. The irony is that often when the bell comes it is a release and, no longer waiting, I pause. Sometimes these moments after the bell can be profound.
One thing I have noticed in our current difficult situation is that there are people who are just waiting for it all to be over. While we would all rather be out of this, if your attitude is to wait until things are 'back to normal' (whatever that means) then you are just putting your life on hold. Randy Komisar calls this the 'deferred life plan.' Rather than waiting and putting our lives on hold we should be pausing and living now. This is the only moment we have.
Below is a fully guided meditation on Pausing, Not Waiting. A few of us have committed to listen to this together at 7pm PT on Sunday May 24th. If you would like to join with us the you are welcome. You can, of course listen at any time, and you are welcome to forward this to any of your friends who might be interested too.
If you would like to read the whole essay from David Cain you can find it here.
If the above player doesn't work for you you can click here.
Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash