The anxiety is palpable. We sit in our car, the five of us, just having attended the graduation ceremony. We are in an underground parking facility. We are in a line of cars that has not moved an inch since it formed twenty minutes ago. We are the hosts that should be hosting. Our guests already at home, awaiting our arrival. We are to serve food and drink to celebrate our son’s college milestone, but we are in the frozen queue.
People walk past our car to the front of the line to find out what is wrong. They walk back with looks of frustration. If we knew the problem, would the line magically begin moving? No need to know. There’s nothing to do… nothing to do but wait.
What is waiting?
Some in our car cannot seem to bear not knowing. There is continual guessing, speculating, concluding, and brooding. There is squirming to get out of this moment. There is no getting comfortable when the mind is reaching like this. The assumption that learning the reason for the standstill will give comfort, keeps the mind churning. Maybe if we knew just how long… Continual adjusting and switching to find blame and explanation, is a futile attempt to make the feelings of discomfort go away.
What is discomfort?
Rejecting what is. Rejecting the only life that can be lived… this life… now. We cannot escape conditions—the conditionality that is life’s current expression. There’s no leaving this parking garage… no leaving life as it has shown up. Yet, we think now can be different than its current expression. Life is always right here. Right here happens to be a stalled line in a parking garage, but isn’t really as specific as that description. Emotions arise out of trying to wrestle life into what we want it to be. It is the action of self-satisfaction. Grasping at ideas of what could be if only.
Simply notice this, return to this life. Here/now can be an engaging conversation. Here/now can be alive simply by taking an interest. The sights, the sounds, the sensations…
In confusion, we see the sum of sensations as pain and difficulty. We reject what is and project the ideas of our satisfaction into this life. How can it not fall short? Yet we don’t need to live like this.
What is waiting? We can pay attention to this life, here, ready to tend to what shows up, what comes to the surface. Or we can ignore here, and live inside the boundary of expectation—habitually looking outward for satisfaction. We don’t have to prepare to be annoyed. We can wake up instead. In openness to the aliveness of this moment—the fullness of this moment—liberation from squirming can be realized. Poof!
A new version of this piece can be found here, under the title No Exit? Pay Attention!
© 2011 Bev Forsman and Letters from Emptiness. If you share this material, please include direction to the original content. Thank you.