365 Challenge Day 48 – Gridlock

9 Jul

In India I once took a bus on the highest highway in the world, in the Himalayas. It was a 24 hour bus ride to Ladakh, with seats that did not recline, and an insane driver who would not stop for food or bathroom breaks.   The narrow roads on the side of the mountains were terrifying. Sometimes the bus would have to back up several hundred feet so an oncoming vehicle could pass. I was so hungry, and uncomfortable; and my friend got motion sickness and threw up several times (we got more comfortable seats after that : ) Anyway, after that trip, nothing has fazed me! Every single voyage I have had since that one 25 years ago has felt comfortable and quick! Spending time in a developing country sure does give a person perspective.

Well, today I put my informal practice to the test while stuck in gridlock traffic. I usually have a pretty easy commute, but was meeting a friend for dinner in the opposite direction and had to take highway south. The last time I did this it took me 2 full hours to go the 20 miles, even though I had left work an hour early. No joke. I could have walked it faster. So today I thought I’d be really smart and leave at 2pm, well… I guess everyone else must have had the same idea! Unbelievable. As soon as I hit the highway the traffic came to a grinding halt.

I am actually pretty patient with traffic. Usually.  Partially because I don’t have to deal with it very often. I usually try to have a good audio book to listen to, or a dharma talk. For many months I drove 2.5 hours every week at rush hour to see my meditation teacher. Traffic feels very impersonal. It’s no one’s fault. There is no one to get mad at. And while stuck in traffic, one has to admit to being part of the very problem.

But even having said all this, gridlock can be frustrating!! I felt a bit of an anxious feeling rising up, feeling a bit trapped, feeling regret that I hadn’t taken a different route, and feeling annoyed that my smart plan was thwarted! But rather than allowing myself to follow the frustration and anxiety, I sighed and relaxed into it. I noticed a feeling of gratitude for having an audio book and air-conditioning. I even thought about how in Legos, Nigeria I’ve heard that when stuck in gridlock there is a risk of getting car-jacked by armed gunmen! Well, I was safe, comfortable, even entertained, and would get there eventually. This was a perfect time to practice patience, acceptance, and relaxation.  If not now, when?

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One Response to “365 Challenge Day 48 – Gridlock”

  1. Karuna July 10, 2014 at 2:38 am #

    Reading about your India bus trip reminded me of my own! I once took a bus from Chennai to Trivandrum,, across the southern part of India. I made the mistake of thinking it would be like a Greyhound bus!

    I’ve been to India 24 times now but I’ve never forgotten that early experience.

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