A Brief Encounter With Mindfulness
Life can never get away from you.
It’s my lunch break and I have so many things to do. I grab my shoulder bag, take a bite of apple, hurtle out of the bookshop where I work and hurry down York Street. As always, the cold southerly wind is rushing up from the harbour to mess with my hair and blow fresh salty air into my foggy head. I take a deep breath and increase my pace.
“Why are you always running?”
By now I’m running so fast that I’m past the speaker before he’s finished the sentence. I slow down and glance back but he’s stepped into the news agency and is out of sight.
That one question, from a young man I’d never seen before and never seen since, has remained with me for the past 15 years.
It was his emphasis on the word always that caught my attention. He’d obviously noticed me running before. I confess I did it often, and it probably wasn’t a pretty sight. A woman in court shoes and tight black skirt, weaving a tricky path through busy lunchtime pedestrian traffic, and darting across the road without using the crosswalk, wasn’t a dignified sight.
His question haunted me for days.
Why was I always running?
There were several reasons.
· I needed the exercise.
· I had many things to do in that half-hour break, including eating my lunch.
· I didn’t value myself enough to ask for an occasional longer lunch break.
· I was intimidated by my boss.
· Deep inside I believed life was getting away from me and I needed to catch up.
· I was running away from myself.
The first two reasons were practical. The second two reasons were psychological. The last two reasons were spiritual.
I obviously had some deep personal work to do, especially to address the last two reasons.
Living with Mindfulness
Life can never get away from you. What's happening now is what life is.
You can be physically late - your poodle's appointment at the Super Dog Wash was for ten o'clock and it's now twenty minutes past that hour. But life isn't late. It's right here, right now, (Probably sitting in your lap and licking your face!)
As far as Life is concerned you're always right on time!
You are life. You are unfolding it moment by moment.
To that young man — who is probably now middle-aged — I’d like to say a belated “Thank you!”.
His brief but pointed comment thrown lovingly at me in the street changed me. I came to realise I don’t need to catch up with life, and that it’s impossible to run away from myself.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn says,
Wherever you go, there you are.
With love, Marlane