It's about 9:15am on Sunday morning, and I'm zooming down the freeway, en route to Celebration Circle. I wanted to be at the SA Garden Center by 9:00, when the load-in and set-up always begins. But once again, I got caught up in some last-minute details at home, and I'm running late, despite the fact that I was up at 5:30.
Fortunately, traffic is light, as it often is on Sunday mornings. Unfortunately, that has given the Steering Committee in my head the chance to hold another one of those raucous meetings, with various voices coming in from different corners of my brain, while the car speeds down the freeway.
One voice is clearly upset that I'm late again; another one sounds grateful for how little traffic there is. A couple of voices are hacking away at the new song I wrote last night, busily re-drafting the lyrics, which I'd already revised earlier this morning (part of why I'm late). One thinks the third verse is fine the way it is, while the other thinks it contains one of the worst endings ever. Meanwhile, another voice is worrying about the fact that this is an extra-bad day to be late, because Monty is in Oklahoma and won't be there to handle the load-in today in his usual, ultra-competent way. And then there's the character that keeps looking hungrily across the passenger seat to where my half-eaten breakfast sits waiting for everything else to get unpacked at the Garden Center first.
The Committee calms down a bit as I pull onto the Mulberry/St. Mary's Street exit ramp, take a quick glance into the rearview mirror, then at the dashboard clock, which reads 9:20. Not too bad, all things considered, says the Timekeeper's voice, rejoicing at the green traffic light just ahead. But just as I get there, the light turns red and the voices in my head start clamoring once again.
I know this particular intersection fairly well, through frequent usage. I'm fully aware that the light-changing interval here is quite long, because it's such a dangerous intersection, due to the high speeds at which cars tend to zoom through it, as well as reduced visibility due to the odd angles involved. That's why there's a big "No Right Turn on Red" sign hanging directly in front of me.
I'm really tempted to ignore that sign, which is much needed during rush hour, but seems pointless right now, because there's almost no one in sight, except for one car way off in the distance, heading in the other direction. But I hesitate, knowing that occasionally there's a traffic cop parked just around the corner, hidden from sight and waiting to pounce on any law-breakers who might do exactly what I'm contemplating.
In that moment of hesitation, I remember a higher law that clearly applies to this situation: the metaphysical principle of Focus, i.e. "What you focus on expands." In other words, if I go through this light illegally because I'm focused on being in a big hurry, I will just heighten the feelings of being rushed, stressed and strained again. But, if instead, I choose to focus on feeling at peace with where I am, I'll create more ease and peace. Taking one slow, soft breath, and then another, the energy shifts as my mind drifts back to Thich Nhat Hahn's insightful invitation to see a stoplight like this one as a gift, rather than a nuisance. As an opportunity to enjoy a mini-meditation, a time for contemplation of the blessings at hand.
So I take another breath and smile at the sacred silliness of being in such a big rush to get to the Circle, where we gather to sing/speak about the importance of slowing down to "align with the Divine" and be more present in our lives. Hee-hee...
What a good time to relax and remember that all is well, just the way it is, right here and right now. That I won't get to where I'm going any faster by worrying about it; and I certainly won't reduce my stress by making an illegal turn. I might as well learn to enjoy this opportunity to simply sit here and bathe in the stillness for a moment.
It's so peaceful that I swear it feels like I've been sitting here for at least five minutes, though logic tells me it's probably been much less. When the light finally turns green and I start driving again, it's with a big, wide grin in my heart, eager to start preparations for this morning's celebration from a sweet place of ease and joy. Something tells me that it's going to be a particularly upbeat morning in the Circle.
With blessings and gratitude for life's many lessons,