Monday, March 22, 2010

Standing Still is an Optical Illusion

It's always about the journey but most of the time we don't get that. Maybe because when we live in the same place and do the same thing we don't notice the landscape rolling by the window. We feel like we're standing still but it's an optical illusion, really.

We forget if we're in the driver's seat or a passenger and we don't notice if we're spending too much time looking in the rear view mirror. Maybe we think we're parked in the corner of the lot or squeezed too tightly between a couple of oversized SUV's. Okay enough with the driving metaphors already. I hear the New Mexico sheriff's car pulling in behind me with an over-metaphor ticket in hand.

Driving has been a big part of life lately. Some days when I get out of the car at the end of the day I still have the strange sensation that I'm moving and the sound of the road is still buzzing in my ears.

With the days and the miles falling behind me I have forgotten the shaky, displaced feeling of giving up my home. Time and space have offered their healing grace. I have other things to think about, the novelty and beauty of new places to fill the senses, the task of searching for places to stay, food to eat.

When I was packing and cleaning and exhausted I longed for the holiday at the end of the tunnel. And now that it is here it comes with it's own Sukkha and Dukkha. Sometimes it is too cold, or the drive is too long or the food is not to my liking, or the windshield got cracked. And of course sometimes everything is quite delightful; the expanses of Wyoming's hills are awe inspiring, Boulder Colorado seems like the realm of the gods. And it is hard not to be pulled into the liking and disliking, the comparing and evaluating. This is the Dharma work of travel, I think.

It is easy to feel out of place, unfamiliar and slightly foreign. It is easy to notice the differences in places and people. And again I remember the dharma work is to remain open and curious and remind myself of all the ways in which we are the same, how we are all connected by the long thread of our humanity.

And if I sound a little like my old self, that's because time and space have not worn the edges off my habitual tendencies. This is the work of mindfulness. I will end with a quote from "Taking The Leap" by Pema Chodron, a little book I breezed through courtesy of my daughter's traveling Dharma library, that speaks to a tendency I am all to familiar with. "We (western people) have an unfortunate tendency to emphasize our failures. But when Dzigar Kongtrul teaches about this, he says that for him when he sees the he has connected with his aspiration even once briefly during the whole day, he feels a sense of rejoicing. He also says that when he recognizes that he lost it completely, he rejoices that he has the capacity to see that.... Can we have the aspiration to identify more and more with our ability to recognize what we're doing instead of always identifying with our mistakes? This is the spirit of delighting in what we see rather than despairing in what we see."


  1. You are traveling through "my" neck of the woods! We are just south of Denver off I-25! Hope you waved on your way by ;) Your picture here looks very familiar - good ole brown Colorado. :) Would it be near Monument Hill on I-25 in Colorado by any chance?

    May the rest of your journey be more restful, inspiring and delightful! C

  2. I did think of you as we passed that way! Should have paused to look you up for a coffee! But you know the lure of the road and many miles to travel. And from your blog I know you have your hands full these days. And I'm not sure where that picture was taken, either somewhere in Wyoming or northern Colorado. And now to explore Taos.

  3. Yes, I know exactly how it is when traveling a distance. You just want to keep going! And yes, the timing... I'm just excited that you were *this* close! Almost connecting - although still "connected by the long thread of humanity" - and I-25 :)

    Happy Journey! C

  4. It's almost like we need permission to acknowledge and accept the good that has happened, or the accomplishments we had a hand in. We're too busy reaching, reaching, getting, getting.

    It's also hard for us to see our own personal improvements and evolution (because we still have so far to go!), but I always joke that if it wasn't for my practice I'd probably be on Prozac!)

  5. Thanks for visiting today. You and I must be on the same wave length . . . Such a wonderful feeling of sisterhood, and interconnectedness.

    I wish you more happy traveling, mindful and unmindful :)

  6. You had mentioned in your Etsy shop that you'd be travelling, but I didn't realize that it was a road trip. Wow!

    Love this post about standing still being an optical illusion. Thanks for the reminder to enjoy the journey of life:)