Just look at me right now, rushing through life like there’s no tomorrow. Well, there actually is no tomorrow, but that’s still no valid reason to operate in such a frenzied mode all of the time.
Everything thing I do seems to be in a rush, as though I have such pressing matters that every moment counts. Even going to the bathroom lacks any peace, as I feel that I must hurry back to my desk and return to working.
One would think that my meditation time is not like this, that this is my time to just stop and breathe. But I notice those same pressure-filled feelings creeping in, as though I must hurry up and get peaceful so that I can get back to my crazy life. Where am I?
When I was in the military I learned the saying about “hurry up and wait”. We would constantly be told to double-time it to get somewhere, only to reach our destination and stand in long lines and wait for hours. This training must have really instilled itself in me, because it appears that I still function in very much this same manner today. Life often feels so rushed and full of responsibilities, yet at the end of the day, I often have accomplished so very little. Begging the questions “where am I?”, “where am I going?” and “what’s my hurry?”. Perhaps even more powerful is in the questioning of how much I am missing in this fast-paced hectic pattern that I have created and seem to perpetuate.
Where am I indeed. If I cannot slow down enough to see the reality of this short life, then I am certainly doomed to exit it with regret. I suppose the most critical thing is to understand what’s really important. Is it my health, my Family, my practice, financial security, my business, or none of the above? But aren’t all of these important and require being tended to?
One thing that becomes quickly evident in asking these questions, is that all are based on the ego. It is the sense of self that compels us to personalize each are of our lives. Then I believe we try to compartmentalize each of them, and devote appropriate levels of attention to each one as we can find the time to do so. Clearly, this type of thinking, organizing and prioritizing, is enough to keep anyone busy 24/7. And we can only keep running on this treadmill until we drop. Drop as in dead.
I think today is the perfect opportunity to ask “where am I?”. Life is flying by much more quickly than I perceived it when I was younger. And each of us must realize that this moment, this day, is the only one that we have. There’s no need to get anywhere, we are already here. And while responsibilities may not go away, there is nothing preventing me or you from just taking a breath. Returning to the present moment and enjoying just how very complete that breath is. Without asking for more, or wishing for less, I have the full potential of equanimity (upekkha). As Bhikkhu Bodhi explains:
“It is evenness of mind, unshakeable freedom of mind, a state of inner equipoise that cannot be upset by gain and loss, honor and dishonor, praise and blame, pleasure and pain. Upekkha is freedom from all points of self-reference; it is indifference only to the demands of the ego-self with its craving for pleasure and position, not to the well-being of one’s fellow human beings.”
And may today be the day that I finally stop and ask myself “where am I?”, take a breath, and observe genuine equanimity. If only for one single minute.