What are you living for now
5 April 2016
It is a gloriously sunny spring afternoon and all I can see, as I walk away from the city centre of Cambridge, is an unending line of traffic queuing to make its way to an impossibly small number of parking spaces. I am aware that I feel very free, liberated, uplifted by the sunlight. But as my passage contraflows the stationary victims – would-be shoppers – I can’t help picking up on the silent messages of those stranded in their overheating metal boxes. Hands flex and contract as they grasp and ungrasp leather clad steering wheels. Passenger seats wriggle with adults and children, each stretched to breaking point by the seemingly endless wait to reach the junction of this road in order to join the main queue on the next one. Further along, the frustration has already erupted in road rage as a woman in a 4×4 mounts the pavement in a very unwise manoeuver. For a while my joyful mood is attenuated. I have stopped enjoying my journey (on foot) and begun to focus on getting to my goal, far away from this line of traffic. Without conscious passage, my head is cluttered with thoughts about the anxiety of modern life – something I’ve been meaning to write about for some while – and then my working mindset is to the fore.
From the communication style they’ve adopted, the male/female pair in the silver Merc look ready for a couples session. Come on! Shouting rarely gets listened to. The family in the people carrier could do with an anger management workshop. And will someone please hand the sports car driver a paper bag to breath into before he passes out!
For a few more metres I’m left wondering what this line of suffering stretching out in front of me is all about before the words of British philosopher and Zen exponent Alan Watts come to mind. In one of his engaging talks* he states: “You can’t live at all unless you can live fully now.” The point he is making is that it’s not the end goal that forms the major reward and provides the greatest pleasure, but the journey itself. And having engaged with this thought, I felt once more liberated, uplifted and grateful that I wasn’t sat in the traffic looking for anticipated reward in my shopping basket.
*If you can spare 2 minutes 22 seconds, you can listen to the rather inspirational way Alan Watts talks about life fully in the now.
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