Expressway of a heart leads to equanimity

I wanted the driver who cut me off to crash and burn.

For a brief moment, I thought of praying that he would immediately die for cutting in front of me as I was doing 60-miles-an-hour on the expressway behind a car just five lengths in front of me. I beeped my horn and flashed my high beams at the driver. I relished in the hatred I felt burning inside of me. I loathed him from the bottom of my heart and wanted a bloody accident to befall ‘em.

Oh my God. What are you doing Michael J? You want peace and calm in your world but only when it’s convenient to you – when you’re alone or with like-minded people. Once you face the hustle and the bustle of people with little concern for you, you become that son-of-a-bitch you claim you’re so far above because of the loving compassion you want to provide others. You’re a hypocrite when the rubber actually hits the road during those stressful moments you still blame on PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.)

Those moments occur more and more frequently on the road since you retired. It is on an expressway of life that you face your most stressful entanglements nowadays.

————-

peace-of-mind-road-sign.jpgRemember two days earlier when you experienced a flashback to the Vietnam War? You were driving to center city Philadelphia and felt you were in a firefight. Your heart sped up, your breathing increased rapidly and your hands were sweating as you maneuvered through the traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway. You barely escaped injury by steering to the far lane of the four-lane highway and found an opening for several hundred feet as you sped up weaving from lane to lane. You were rushing to a spiritual gathering, one you were late for a week earlier, and you didn’t want to be shamefully late again.

You wanted to stop all traffic at that moment. All of life. You wanted to bring to an end all involvement outside of your home, outside of your safe and secure cave. You wanted to withdraw and have nothing to do with anything outside of that safe and secure womb.

And then it dawned on you. All you wanted was happiness and for all others to be happy as you recalled the prayer learned from one of the Buddhist teaching.

—————-

May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.

May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.

May they never be separated from the happiness which knows no suffering.

May they live in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.*

————-

The motorist was not free from attachments. You were not free from aversions. You both wanted the same thing in life but neither one quite knew how to obtain it.

You immediately forgave the driver. Who knows what was going through the person’s mind or suffering they felt? We’ve all been in similar situations rushing for some all-important meeting or to avoid some illusory mind-created catastrophe.

You then forgave yourself and felt the heat of anger begin to dissipate on the road.

Here’s hoping that you can repeat this exercise the next time you travel this way.

(The Four Immeasurables: Immeasurable Love, Immeasurable Compassion,
Immeasurable Joy, Immeasurable Equanimity)

8 comments on “Expressway of a heart leads to equanimity

  1. You are not outside of God, you are the Universe expressing itself in life through love. It takes consciousness to upset that truth, and the programming that comes with it is hard to rewrite. It sound like you do better when you under clock your processor. Make an effort to make less haste, and more love! Cheers …

    • contoveros says:

      Less haste is what I have to focus upon. Give myself the extra time so that I can not rush when traveling through life. It’s something I need to be aware of all of my life.

      Thanks for the insight Grandfather Sky!

      • Seems you’re doing fine … Hoping all is well, and have a great holiday. Regardless of its reason or outcome your service to your country I am sure honors the men who served with you more than any ordinary citizen may know …

  2. Oh, you aren’t alone in this one, Michael J. The accusatory voice that yells “hypocrite” visits me as well. It’s all a part of the transformation. How often it is I place ugly posts on FB only to delete them later when my peace conscience appears to scold me. Being aware is the first step, and we’ve got that. We must forgive ourselves and put aside the “stinkin’ thinkin’.” Return to the breath, again and again. And when we feel that need to hide away in our “safe” cave, remember we are “safe” everywhere. “Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.” – Rumi

    • contoveros says:

      I like your characterisation “stinkin’ thinkin’.”

      Too often, it is what my mind does when a strong emotion pops up. I will try my best to return to the breath again and again. It can become the superman’s cape that will keep me safe from all harm my mind might dig up . . .

  3. contoveros says:

    The following are messages shared about this Blog post on Facebook:

    Fred Tomasello Jr.
    Thank you for sharing this valuable lesson.

    Contoveros
    PTSD raises its ugly head during those stressful situations outside of the Vietnam War.

    Here’s hoping us veterans find the peace we’ve been seeking all of our lives!
    ——————————

    Andrea Hornett
    You caught it in time! Whatever flag of craziness that driver was flying, you got right to the good stuff. Lots of fear flying around these days. Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

    Contoveros

    I got to give myself more time when facing stressful situations. Too often, the flight or fight instinct kicks in and off I go into the war zone. Thanks for your insight!
    Yeah, there is a lot of craziness going around and I’m glad that I don’t have to face at a work situation on a daily basis Andrea.

    Hopefully I’ll use my time on the road as a learning experience and thank those inconsiderate drivers for the gift they bring me for more understanding and forgiveness.

    ——————————–

    Jason Zaczyk
    Thanks for sharing your vulnerable story… We all have those moments that derail when dealing with external forces… I try to stay in the moment and challenge my anger with calm. Within moments I gain control again. Don’t feel weakened by the infraction… it is a different time & place in what we grew up knowing. Manners & courtesy seem to struggle to stay alive in the 21st century. I am sure it is because of the me-ism society we observe & witness.

    Contoveros
    I got to give myself more time when facing stressful situations. Too often, the flight or fight instinct kicks in and off I go into the war zone. Thanks for your insight!
    —————————

    Bob Lyness
    Nicely done. We should all read this insight. Think I will share…thanks.
    Angry

    Contoveros
    It ain’t easy overcoming PTSD especially on the highway where road rage can shift into high gear so quickly.

    Thanks for your input!

    Bob Lyness
    PTSD, as you are well aware, is extremely sinister in its assault on us. We are discovering, through discoveries with combat vets, how prevalent it really is in our society. Children, for example, who witness and are exposed to domestic violence situations, suffer the same alteration of brain chemistry as those combat vets, such as yourself. The human body is an incredible instrument which goes through lengths to protect itself.
    Certainly would NOT DO to freak out in “combat” of any sort. Soooo…your body kinda delays reaction, I suppose…a “freak out on your own time” kinda thing I imposed upon myself as a police officer. But then, you have those latent triggers laying around in there…and until defused, if they even can be, there they sit. Keep the faith, Brother. And welcome home. I was in the Army 72-74, so I JUUUUUSSSSTTT missed the SE Asia stuff. God be with you.

    Contoveros
    Well all I can say is “We Shall Overcome” brother. We’ll have this malady the rest of our lives, but we know we are not alone and it’s a real comfort to know others not only acknowledge it, but go out of their way to share and help others.
    Thanks for your double service!

  4. Like riding a bike… we must continually peddle (adjust our thinking toward the light). So good are the Immeasurables! Thank you for this!

    • contoveros says:

      “Like riding a bike!”

      Instead of peddling all I want to do is coast, but look what happens when I let my awareness start to fade. Your comments are always immeasurable in my book . . .

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