Monday, August 20, 2012

On Parking and the Dalai Lama

On Saturday, I drive to the Ferry Building to meet a friend. Ask anyone in the city, and they’ll tell you how crazy parking can be during this time – especially, on a warm cloudless day – the sun, a bouquet of marigolds. Imagine a link of cars strewn like sausages along the Embarcadero, the familiar patchwork of tourists stamped on sidewalks - socializing, shopping, sunbathing. It’s a typical day on the tourist side of San Francisco.

Luckily, I know of a secret parking place only a block away from the Ferry Building - the Golden G Tennis Club (one of the perks, when I was a member). Minor detail: I’m no longer a member and therefore, not technically entitled to park here anymore.

However, it doesn’t hurt to just drive by - have a quick look, the mind taunts. I mean, I’m just looking like anyone and everyone – even if there is a big sign with words like club members only and tow away under penalty.

So, given this information, how does it happen that I find myself in the GG parking lot, amidst parking spaces aplenty? Then crawl in, so naturally into a perfectly usable parking space like it is meant to be?

I close the door and speed walk, then awkwardly march with head on feet, to freedom.

I fake my way to the club entrance – then slyly turn the opposite direction to the Ferry Building. I pass a man with glasses; taking an awfully long time to feed the parking meter. Coin. Drop. Clink. Coin. Drop. Clink....

The coast is clear. The Ferry Building is in my horizon.

EXCEPT for the life of me, did I remember to lock the door?

I turn around, speed walk, then casually inch closer to the parking lot and using the remote control key like a wand, try and lock the door from a bush.

EXCEPT, a damn car rolls up and blocks my line.

This is crazy Mai. You did lock the door, my mind keeps reassuring me. Just turn around and walk away.

EXCEPT, I don’t fully trust myself and what my mind is saying.

I walk up ever so cool-like to the car, open the door, then assume the ostrich position hiding its head into the seat. I close the door, lock it twice and then speed walk/stroll casually away. Double fake directions, then turn around and cross the street toward the Ferry Building. The coast is clear. Easy.

EXCEPT, my mind starts projecting into the future. What if I the club finds out. What if I come back, discover the car has been towed away and the only way to get it back is to hire one of those pedicabs, that I'm seeing more in the city. And we'll need to stop by the ATM first, because I don't have enough money to pay the exorbitant fine. What if…

My body stiffens. A razor pinch ruptures on the neck and shoulders. It’s now 20 minutes since I’ve parked the car. And I’m still playing tug of war with myself. This doesn’t feel good or wise. I try and remember a quote from the Dalai Lama that was recently and beautiful shared with me. Something about the heart and the mind. About being divided inside – the war inside. The heart will never understand why the mind will try to rationalize.

The man with glasses who was feeding the meter earlier, passes me and smiles.

I stop dead in my tracks. Remember to breathe deeply. And I ask my heart. What do I feel? What do I do?

Move the car!

For the third time, I walk back to the car. Start the engine and pull out. As I leave the parking lot, a car moves out of a parking space on the sidewalk.  I take the space. I step out, feeling content and peaceful and look for the meter. There is no meter. A bike cop rides next to me and tells me that he’s seen people park in this spot; he explains that there is no parking meter, he can’t fine me, but I would need to talk to someone at the club to find out if it’s ok for me to park here since the space is right in front of the club’s drive way. Fair enough. I thank the cop, walk to the reception desk and ask if I can park in the space right next to the driveway.

“Are you a member?”

“No…..but I was.”

Long pause that feels like a century.

“For today, you can park there.”

"Thank you!" Big smile beaming brighter than fireworks.

Realization – when I divide and separate my mind and heart, I feel worry, anxiety and doubt. Harmony is the alignment of the heart, head and voice. Be still, present, listen to the heart – it knows best.

Here’s the story/quote from the Dalai Lama:

At the end of a talk someone from the audience
 asks the Dalai Lama about war. The Dalai Lama looks down, says with a gentle smile, "Well, war is obsolete, you know " Then, after a few moments, 
"Of course the mind can rationalize 
fighting back...but the heart, the heart would never understand.
Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind,
 and the war would be inside you."

Ps Gratitude and thanks to Jeannie Zukav!!

1 comment:

Posts said...

Great story. I like this new perspective on keeping the peace.


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