Saturday, August 27, 2016

Savoring Those Zen Moments

I had a zen moment when I was sitting on a bench beside the Missouri River the other day.  I had been running errands and took the time to sit by myself beside the river.  For the fifteen minutes or so that I sat there, there were no diesel locomotives blowing their horns as they passed by just fifty yards away and hauling nearly a hundred hoppers, the empty ones taken north and the ones full of coal taken south.

I had left my phone in the car and had no inclination to check it for text messages or for posts that someone made on Facebook. It was enough to sit there and absorb the moment while studying the trees that weren't killed off during the last flood and while remembering how much shade used to be present before a few of the trees were cut down.  Although it was hot and humid, those things were not unbearable and actually typical for this time of year.

I used to make a habit of walking beside the river on those afternoons that I taught downtown. Regardless of the season, I did some of my best thinking while sitting on a park bench--often thinking of what went well in the class that I had just finished teaching and what I needed to do in class the next time.

I think that there needs to be more zenlike moments in our lives--that is, times when we are able to concentrate with few distractions and without sitting in front of a screen or holding one up to our faces.  Once, when I was waiting outside of a restaurant one summer evening, an elderly man walking by congratulated me for not staring down at a cell phone. All of the seven or eight other people waiting outside were checking their phones for something or other.  My phone was left in the car. (I probably shared that story once before.) It stands to reason that I am not one who plays video games very often.

Is it an age thing? Are those people my age more content to sit quietly and observe the world around us?  I think we have come to appreciate those moments because they can occur infrequently and may not ever come again.