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February 21st, 2022

Red lights and check-out lines. Waiting rooms and response times. For whatever cursed reason, the default response to forced waiting is frustration, annoyance - even anger. And almost no reflection is devoted to this extremely common part of life. People in their last decades can get just as pissed off at an unwanted wait as a toddler who can’t get their food fast enough.


If we could only see these parts of a person’s life, the only conclusion to be drawn would be that such a person simply can’t wait for life to be over.


And yet life is short. An old man once said to me: when you are young, time is like the distance between telephone poles, but when you get to be my age, it starts looking like a picket fence.


It’s an equally strange phenomenon that time seems to speed up as more of it passes us by, and yet despite all this, a slow check-out line can bring absolute ruin to a person’s mood and mind.


Is it possible to find red lights meditative? Can a waiting room be anything like sitting at the beach? Can a checkout line be an opportunity to realize anew just how improbable our entire existence is?


Certainly. These are all advertisements for a meditation practice - something which comes online in all of these scenarios - at least for the well practiced individual.


Many of the arguments for starting a meditation practice are touted as altruistic: it makes you a better person, less of an asshole to friends and family. Do them a favor. But a well honed meditation practice does first and foremost improve the quality of life for the meditator. 


Simply imagine if all of the frustrating pockets of time in life that normally inspire a low-grade rage could all be replaced with that overwhelming feeling of relaxation and pleasure that comes after a much needed sigh and a breath of fresh air?  This is an upgrade that money simply can’t buy, and which at the end of life is simply priceless when looking back.


It’s strange that in a culture that goads us to use time wisely, that we are so prone to use it so poorly when a pocket of it presents itself. Even if it means “using” that time in the simplest way possible: life grows shorts as the seconds tick by; best to enjoy the wait.

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