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My Day 16 Molehills

Day 16 of Yoga Journal’s 21-Day Challenge


Who knows whether it is bad luck or good luck,” says the Taoist farmer.

Is that so?” asks the Zen monk.

Everything…is the best,” says the Zen butcher.

Gam zu l’tovah,” says Nachum Ish Gamzu.

In the modern world, especially here in the West, we tend to view things as they come. We are quick to assume that what we have, here and now, is the whole story. And, we are quick to judge accordingly. We define a situation – or another person – as good, bad, or irrelevant depending on how it measures up to our current goals and desires. We suffer, because we react to what’s happening in a moment that is nothing more, nothing less, than the middle of a chapter. Even if (you think) this chapter is the end of your life, it is hardly ever where your story ends.

In fact, even if you’re right, and this is the last chapter of your living life, there’s still another chapter in your story – it just involves other people. If you’re wrong, and this is not the last chapter in your living life, then the next chapter is all about how your attitude about a current situation affected your future situations.

My Day 16 Story

This morning I had the time, and even the inclination, to sit for 5 minutes and then combine the 15-Minute Morning Sequence with the sequence I was planning to lead at the studio. I could have even squeezed in the 18-Minute So Hum Meditation I’ve been practicing, but then I would have had to rush, possibly even skip breakfast. Since I was still drained from the previous night’s adventure, I decided I didn’t want to rush or skip breakfast. And, even though I felt really good after my asana practice – good enough to sit, in fact – I decided to wait. After all, I had plenty of time later in the day.

On Day 2 of Yoga Journal’s 21-Day Challenge, I practiced the So Hum Mediation in the back room of a St. Paul coffee shop. On Day 9, I meditated in an open area at the Downtown-Minneapolis YMCA. Both of those options were available to me on Day 15, but I decided to decline the first and run some errands. Maybe, I thought, I’d have time at the Y, or after my final class at the studio.

On the train going downtown I looked up when I overheard people making jokes about “snoop dog” and saw a K-9 unit outside of a bar. I thought they were being clever. On my way back to the studio, I overheard a man talking to a woman about divorcing her husband. At times, the man sounded encouraging. At other times, he sounded desperately concerned. Finally, there were times when I sounded like he was trying to persuade her to do something that may or may not have been in her best interest. As people moved to give him a little privacy, it occurred to me that while we might consider it inappropriate for him to carry on this conversation on the bus, we really couldn’t judge what he was doing, because we didn’t have the whole story. Maybe this woman was in an abusive marriage. Maybe the man on the bus was her supportive older brother. Maybe the person he called later, to say he was on his way home, was someone who would appreciate the appearance of this woman who would soon be coming to visit.

When my class was over, I had extra housekeeping things to do that took up the 20 minutes I normally have before my bus arrived. Since it was cold, and I didn’t want to miss the bus, I got my stuff together and made it out with minutes to spare. I would, I decided, meditate when I got home. No big deal.

Only this isn’t where the story ends.

As I locked up the studio, the bus arrived early – and I missed it. I had several options at my disposal. One of which was to go back in the warm cozy studio, meditate, and catch the next bus. Only problem with that option was that I was slightly annoyed that the bus was early. So, I walked a little over half mile to another bus stop, where I expected another bus to be minutes away. Unbeknownst to me the next bus wasn’t scheduled for another hour. Again, I had other options. Warmer options even. But, I waited. And waited. And waited. And, as I waited, I got a little irritated. Not so angry that I cussed anybody out or had fit; but, just frustrated enough that I my blood didn’t flow as well as it could have in an effort to keep my toes warm – and, more importantly, I didn’t use one of my other, warmer, options.

When the bus finally arrived, the fair box was still charging the rush hour fair (even though rush hour ended at 6:30 PM and it was now almost 10 PM). When I mentioned the fair was incorrect, the driver changed it. But, I couldn’t help wondering how many people had been overcharged before me, and who I’d saved from being overcharged later in the night. It also occurred to me that if I were someone else, coming home from work under similar circumstances, cold and irritated, I might cause a scene. Especially when I missed my connecting bus.

Only this isn’t where the story ends.

As I got off the bus, and geared myself up to walk almost a mile, a cab pulled into the convenience store parking lot next to the bus stop. Did the driver want a short fare, I asked. Of course.

The cab smelled funny, but it was warm and cozy – and the driver was a pleasant man who turned out to live in the neighborhood. He told me it was a busy night because Snoop Dog was playing a couple of concerts in town.

Here, finally, was the end of one story. Even though I was still a little cold, a little hungry, and a little tired, I still had a quiet space to meditate. And so I did. At times I was a little fidgety, which makes me inclined to say it wasn’t the best 18-minute meditation. Maybe, I think, it could have been better if I had taken one of those earlier opportunities. The only problem with that idea is that you can’t always know how an opportunity is best used. You can only be open to the possibilities. You can only be receptive to the experiences as they come.

For more, read The Stories Behind The Teachings.

~ Be open, be receptive. ~


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