Yesterday around lunchtime I received a message that hooked my attention and was clearly going to require some dedicated time to formulate a good response. In the back of my mind, though, was a 1 p.m. meeting…
Time faded as I sorted my thoughts, every so often sitting back in my office chair, every so often bumping the mouse habitually to keep the screensaver from launching, when suddenly I noticed I had only two minutes to catch the shuttle! I logged off and flew out the door to the lobby! Elevator or stairwell? The elevator is too slow. What if I miss this shuttle? Maybe catch the next, miss a short lunch break, be a few minutes late. I forgot the sticky note with the room number! Wait, I think I remember; besides, I know the corridor–allow a few minutes to search if I’m wrong… I should have hit the bathroom! It can wait…
I caught the shuttle, which was running a minute or two behind. I found the first bathroom on arrival. I grabbed a quick lunch. I remembered the room number and was on time.
No, I don’t mean that. What happened?
Ahh… For a while, my singular focus was to provide a good answer to that message. The office, the computer, the desk and chair: these were all as they should be, assisting in this task. The meeting looming on the horizon? I was tracking that light hindrance, checking in on it periodically…
In an instant, singular focus shifted exclusively to “be at the meeting on time!” Suddenly, my being logged into the computer was a delay and the comfortable place to think was far away from where I should be. Even the desk was an obstacle, standing between me and the door! “I have plenty of time to catch the shuttle” became “Out of my way! I’m going to miss the bus!”
My body is running down four flights of stairs and out the door while my thoughts are checking alternative plans, yes, but they did not change that I was on my way. Everything from the bathroom stop to catching lunch were considered from the “Be on time!” place.
I don’t even know what happened to that message’s reply…
Anyway, from one full-bore Zen emptiness perspective, not even a “meeting” exists since that would just be a characterization of a bunch of people in a room… that is if even the “people” or the “room” existed to hold the meeting… (Don’t worry, those people will be so late thinking about all that emptiness that they can’t interfere with your meeting anyway.) But look at all that transpired given those ideas!
More importantly, take note of that moment when “provide a good response” became “be at the meeting on time!” I don’t mean a switch from thinking “provide a good response” to thinking “be at the meeting on time!” like we’re doing now–both of these thoughts appear in a different context–rather, consider the actual shift itself. What decided to release one state and appear in the next, recasting my entire world in a new view?
Can you simply change the context? Can you trust your body and thoughts to follow you?
Then how about this: Along the way, the thought “You probably don’t have to be at that meeting anyway…” did in fact occur to me. What was it that rejected that thought and carried on?
What is what you see in light of where you are? Catch up!!!