Lost In Traffic When the Road is Clear
“The art of transformation lies in knowing that the thought is the thing. A transformational shift would be one in which a fundamental shift in perspective takes place.”
~ from The Inward Outlook, by Dr. Laura Basha
We were up at 2:50am this morning to get to Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto by 5:00am. My husband was scheduled for surgery and it was a drive from where we were in the East Bay.
Although one cannot ever really say there is never traffic on I-880 S, it is sparse enough at 4 in the morning to be noteworthy! We arrived on time, and due to covid restrictions, I had to drop him off and drive away. There was the need for a consciously chosen moment to let go of whatever worry-thinking pulled at me for attention. I focused on figuring out how to navigate in the still dark and unfamiliar neighborhoods, directions that are clearly being commanded by Siri. I worry instead about getting lost, and so stave off the weirdly uncomfortable feeling of disloyalty that non-verbally tells me I am abandoning my husband …
Five days before I was in a global zoom conference inquiry with other like-minded transformation devotees, pondering what has us as human beings feel incomplete? Over many hours we made lists of items about which we felt incomplete, and then explored ways in which to communicate what needed to be said to another, or actions to take that would complete a task, a commitment, actions to restore wholeness and a sense of well-being.
I sat with these lists of mine, reviewing the pages of things I had written down, and suddenly, something occurred to me in the midst of my cognitive struggling. It dawned on me that I wasn’t actually incomplete. These lists were just lists of action items that I hadn’t addressed, and instead of addressing them I spent a lot of time thinking about them, having internal opinions about them, having unspoken judgements and resentments about them and so feeling pressured and stressed.
The next day I was exceptionally productive and it surprised me – not so much that I got a lot done, but that I got things done with ease and focus. When I began to think about the item that needed attention, I noticed that I was thinking about it, and I said out loud to myself, “LAURA, STOP THINKING!!!”, and I simply got back to being present with the tasks. What I realized is that there is no feeling of incompleteness or stress when I am completely present with what I have chosen to accomplish. There is actually no thinking when I’m in the moment – only being with the thing at hand.
I remembered all of this as I was driving back from Palo Alto this morning. I remembered to stop thinking about my husband’s well-being. He was, after all, in one of the best hospitals in the world. I became present to driving and let Siri navigate. Made it back with ease and several hours later got a call from my husband. He was he said, feeling joyful and grateful. The surgery was a success, so Siri and I will go back to Palo Alto in the morning to pick him up.
Perhaps the next evolutionary plateau for human Intelligence to reach is developing the capacity to NOT think. There is freedom and clarity in allowing moments of not thinking. I can practice using thought as the tool it is, rather than be what it uses, and let the traffic be only on I-880, rather than in my head!