Week one with no car. In Los Angeles. I used to mock people who thought they could live like this. L.A. is not known for its public transportation system, but it is known for lacking a center, and its overall sprawl.
I gave up my lovely Honda Hybrid last week, when it became apparent that the payments that were too high in the first place, were astronomically out of my budget with the rising cost of living and the economic crisis. I gave up my car, found my rapid bus downtown, and I must say, I LOVE IT.
It might have something to do with my slow digestion of Eckhart Tolle's book "A New Earth," in which he writes about breaking free from time and form, and making friends with the present moment. He writes that you are "able to decide what kind of a relationship you want to have with the present moment. Do I want the present moment to be my friend or my enemy? The present moment is inseparable from life, so you are really deciding what kind of a relationship you want to have with life. Become friendly toward it, welcome it no matter in what disguise it comes, and soon you will see the results. Life becomes friendly toward you, people become helpful, circumstances cooperative. One decision changes your entire reality. But that one decision you have to make again and again and again -- until it becomes natural to live in such a way. ...
(When psychological time takes over your life) "Almost every thought you think is then concerned with past or future, and your sense of self depends on the past for your identity and on the future for its fulfillment. Fear, anxiety, expectation, regret, guilt, anger are the dysfunctions of the time-bound state of consciousness." ...
"To awaken within the dream is our purpose now."
No better moment to make friends with the present, and live outside of psychological time than when your bus is late. I feel very Rebecca, very me, riding the bus. Though I tried to create a haven in my car, I tended toward tension, unexpressed anger over that which I couldn't control, yet somehow thought I should be able to control. As a passenger on a bus, there's no control. Illusions are gone.
The bus is late? It will come when it comes. An over-sized SUV that cannot possibly fit into a Trader Joes parking lot cuts us off? It doesn't matter, we're still barreling down Beverly Blvd. Bus breaks down? Another bus will come for you. No worrying about getting to the mechanic and back to work.
I've heard New Yorkers bemoan how isolated we are in L.A. -- in a sad reenactment of "Swingers" satire, we all jump in our individual cars and drive off alone. Friday morning, while waiting for the late bus, I talked to a couple people, gave one guy change so he could ride the magical bus, and still made it to work in plenty of time for my first meeting. On the ride home I met a lovely German couple who were taking the rapid down to "the Groove." I offered my travel services, which involved pulling the yellow cord to request their stop and shoving them off into the middle of Fairfax. Over the street noises we talked about travel and the best time for me to visit Germany.
I realize I've got it easy. I'm thankful to live in my neighborhood where I can walk to the best coffee in the city (Kings Road), to Trader Joes, the drugstore, Borders, H&M and, actually, to movies and books and the Farmer's Market at "the groove." But I also think there's something to being in the moment, ready for whatever it brings, even traffic and rain. Make friends with it, and the Germans across from you.