To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.
Thursday began like any other working day:
9:00 am: Meeting with client whose small retail business is in trouble
11:30 am: Board meeting (20 min. away from office)
2:00 pm: Meeting the husband to go to DMV and get our truck’s registration, in order to benefit from Obama’s Cash for Clunkers program
3:00 pm: Meeting with client back in my office
5:30 pm: Meeting with a tech guru about our blog (to figure out what we’re doing wrong!)
Everything was going along fine until my board meeting ran late. Since I’m responsible for recording the minutes, I found it hard leaving at 1:30, even though the meeting had been scheduled to end at that time. Thinking about my 2:00, I gathered up my laptop and ran to the nearest exit. Bam! I ran right into a glass door. Stunned, bleeding, and barely able to catch my breath, I was rushed into the ladies room by a female colleague. “Slow down,” she repeated at least a dozen times. Utterly embarrassed, I could hear my colleagues talking outside the ladies room: “People need to slow down. We all just need to slow down.”
I washed my face in cold water and looked in the mirror. It could have been worse. I could have broken my damn nose, and that would have been a tragedy because I happen to like my nose. It fits my face. And the thought of having to go through some rhinoplasty procedure because I was in a hurry to get papers from the DMV to satisfy my husband and the car dealer and qualify for the Cash for Clunkers program would have been more than ridiculous. Still, staring in the mirror, I brooded over that woman with a banged-up bloody nose, asking myself, ‘Why is she always in a hurry? Where is that woman who was enrolled in a year of yoga and mindfulness, and why wasn’t she being more mindful? What would my venerable yoga teacher, Cindy, think?’ (If you want wonderful yoga classes, check this out: http://www.onecenteryoga.com/wb/pages/special-classes/a-year-of-yoga-mindfulness.php)
I closed my eyes, and took several deep breaths before I ventured out of the ladies room. I looked for the Exit sign and headed that way. Ueber alert, I carefully held out my hand to feel the glass door before pushing it open. Aware of my breath, I stood outside the building and looked down to count the steps before descending. Six. I could do it. I walked slowly to my car, put on my sunglasses and turned the air conditioner on.
I immediately called my husband to inform him I would be late. “And by the way, I walked into a glass door and almost broke my nose, and it’s all your fault because you’re pressuring me to do this Cash for Clunkers thing, and time is running out.”
Nose throbbing, I met up with the husband, who genuinely felt sorry for me. “You’ve got to be more careful. You need to slow down,” he said.
“I know. Please don’t lecture me. I’m nauseous and hungry.” You should know one thing about me: I can always eat. It doesn’t matter whether I’m, sad, happy, sick, or depressed–food is joy and comfort. Luckily for me, the DMV was next to a gourmet sandwich shop, which facilitated my specific need at that time for a mozzarella tomato and basil sandwich on a whole wheat baguette. (See photo below!) Mission accomplished on all fronts: at DMV, papers obtained, and husband happy. Back to work.
When my 3:00 client arrived, I was sitting at my desk with ice on my face. Luckily for me, she was the spiritual type, and when I explained what happened, she said, “You have got to slow down. If that is not a message, I don’t know what is.”
So what’s the take away for me here, other than slowing down?
Be Present and Pay Attention. Stop trying to do it all. Take care of myself.
There is an irony here. Sitting at my desk at home is a wonderful book written by Zen teacher Cheri Huber. In Making a Change for Good – A Guide to Compassionate Self-Discipline, she outlines a 30-day self retreat at home.
I’ve never been able to go beyond lesson six or seven. However, there is no reason for self-pity. The teacher knows all and writes: “You might quit the program a hundred times before you finish it…that’s a good thing…Quit and then recommit, for each time you recommit, your ability to pay attention and focus gets stronger. It’s okay to start over every day if you must.” Well, I must.
For the record, we did participate in Cash for Clunkers, thank you, Mr. President. I traded in my 1989 Dodge Dakota pick-up with 215,000 miles for a brand new Honda Fit. How fitting is that?