No Exit? Pay Attention!

no exit

The anxiety is palpable. We sit in our car, five of us, having just attended the graduation ceremony. The line has not crawled an inch in twenty minutes. We are in an underground parking facility, and no one has cell service. We are the hosts who should be hosting—guests already await our arrival. We are to serve food and drink to celebrate our son’s college milestone, but here we are, frozen in queue.

A car door slams. And then another. Some of the curious venture to the line’s beginning to find out what is wrong. They walk back, their bodies tense with frustration. No one seems to know why the automated system is down. There is no exit.

Some in our car cannot bear not knowing. Constant is the guessing, speculating, concluding, and brooding. Churning mind. Waiting. Churning mind. What about our guests? Maybe if we knew just how long…

The effort to find explanation, the wish to be already home, are both futile attempts to find comfort. If we knew the source of the problem, would the knowing make the line move? We cannot escape conditions as they have come to be. There is no exit. There is nothing to do… nothing to do but wait. Or so we assume.

What is waiting?

Waiting finds discomfort. Waiting is ignoring what is while yearning for something else—the preferred version. The achievement of the substitute is impossible. We cannot escape conditions as they have come to be. What has come to be is life’s current expression. Here/now is where life takes place.

Our carload is in the parking garage now… there is no escape from now. In an effort to fulfill our desires, we judge what is against our desires and preferences. Emotions arise with this attempt to will reality into a preferred version. Attaching to the wish, the desire, the wanting, or the preference, is the source of annoyance and anxiety. There is another way.

Simply notice, return to this. Here/now can arise as an engaging conversation, an echo of heels on pavement, the rise and fall of breathing, the inherent peace found in not knowing. Here/now becomes vibrant simply by taking an interest. Sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought… each beckons awareness to this here/now experience… boundless, unknowable possibility.

Go ahead… prepare to be annoyed. Live in a fabricated world bound by unfulfilled expectations. Or shift awareness to this. Engage in this. Bring interest and flexibility of mind to the boundless possibility born from circumstance. Waiting vanishes. Engagement takes its place.

No exit? Pay attention!

A first version of this piece was posted in 2011 under the title Waiting. What is It?

© 2015 Bev Forsman and Letters from Emptiness. If you share this material, please include direction to the original content. Thank you.

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