On Friday, with only three weeks left to go before Christmas, I stopped at my local CVS for laser paper. It’s a little more expensive there than at Staples, but it’s a shorter walk, and I like to save my steps for walking in the woods and not the big box stores.
Standing in line with my laser paper and a mini Panettone — it’s the holidays after all — I realized I was going to be waiting a while. There was a long line, one open register, and a family having a serious discussion with the cashier:
Can we use this coupon? (No.)
How about this one? (No.)
Is this eye pencil sharpener on sale? (No, it’s the other one, with the case.)
Can’t you apply the sale to this one? (No.) (Did you want the lip balm that’s on sale?)
Oh yes. Hold on. Let me run back and get that.
The laser paper was getting heavy, and I almost dropped the mini Panettone. Plus I was hot now — and a little annoyed — and since the only other cashier was busy putting out the Valentine’s Day candy, I decided to leave.
Not huffy leave. Or angry leave. Just put down my things and move on to the next errand leave, practicing my best versions of Surrender and Acceptance.
Truth be told, I ended up having to do the same thing at the post office 10 minutes later. No big deal. I wasn’t in desperate need of laser paper (or that Panettone), and the letter I was mailing could post on Monday.
Since I’d saved all of that time not waiting in lines, I headed across town to one of my favorite places to walk. A trail that winds across a marsh, and up through the woods to an overlook with views of Long Island Sound and a monument to poet Jennie Vedder that reminds:
I would be one with Earth again,
and grieve not as the seasons pass,
but joyous in the pulse of grass,
exultant with the beat of rain.
I would be one with Earth again,
one with her joy, one with her pain.
It was such a pretty almost-winter day. Sunny with a nice chilly breeze. Quiet except for some lingering gulls and the Amtrak heading to New York. Perfect…marred only by the Festering I was still doing about the holidays, the lines, the people at the register back at CVS.
Then a little inner voice yelled: STOP!
You went to all that effort finding your Zen spot; you made decisions to leave the things that were not serving you; and here you are full-up with thoughts about those same things. STOP!
The thing is, we all have that choice every day. Do we sit in the muck of thoughts about this or that, or do we move on about our business? Get our shoes stuck down in the mud or walk around the edge and move forward?
But I’m not perfect, and mind-control is not my forte whatsoever…so I found that Festering’s thoughts kept trying to find their way back in again. You know, sort of in that same way your thoughts push through your moments of Meditation? Zen then Me! Me! Me! Zen then Think Over Here! Think Over Here!
So we all sort of walked together for a while—me, my thoughts, the folks in line at the post office, and the family at CVS. Until I lost site of the family, and the post office line dissipated. My thoughts wandered off about a new writing project, and there I was — alone at last! Me and my Zen, again.
There is nothing like a walk in the woods to chase away the pesky thoughts. To reconnect you with Here and Now. To show you the way to Grace and Gratitude. And Zen.
©2022, Jen Payne