Zen Spot #143— Mindfulness, meditation and the intersection of Broad and Vine February 10, 2018 00:05

The intersection

Traveling west on Vine Street, I ran a red light at the corner of Broad at about 9 p.m. on a Thursday night. Halfway through the intersection, I knew I was in trouble. The terror of such a mistake, in the moment, before an impact, is hard to describe. Time slows down and speeds up simultaneously. The impact is expected — only there wasn’t an impact.

I sailed to the other side of Broad unscathed. Cars going north and south narrowly missed me. Pursuant to my description of my choice’s effect on time, the vehicles never slammed on their brakes or honked their horns. It all happened too quickly — everybody was safe without any input or time to react. 

Before I made it to the other side, I knew I had a problem with alcohol. In fact, I’d suspected for about six months. My suspicions were confirmed as I crossed the double line on Broad Street. 

I’d had two drinks, so I wasn’t blind. One’s accountability, however, is the same whether one drink or one fifth is involved. Drinking and driving had never been a problem in the past — it just wasn’t my thing. Doesn’t matter.

The needle had been threaded.

Grace, karma, luck, coincidence, nothing or ferried by an angel

For the previous seven years, and perhaps more, I’d done little to earn a favor from the universe — taking more than giving. And, while I understand that the idea of karma is much more than cause and effect, I believe in cause and effect as a fundamental part of life, especially since the negative effect caused by a negative action can bring considerable suffering. Simplistic, I know, but it works for me.

Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t kill somebody or myself. We were saved by inches and physics. What were the karma profiles of everybody involved? Those driving north and south? The pedestrians?

I threaded the needle. Grace, karma, luck, coincidence, nothing or ferried by an angel?

When the eye of a needle is a threshold

I committed to change. It took me another year to stop drinking but I never got behind the wheel of a car again. With the help of an acquaintance I stopped altogether and, as of the essay, it’s been 5873 days.

When the eye of a needle is a tunnel

Things got harder for a long time. The metaphor of the light at the end of the tunnel being a train ended up being true. It took time to learn, though, that I’d been in the tunnel long before the needle was threaded. 

Never coming out on the other side of the tunnel

Metaphors are sometimes inappropriate or ineffective. This is one of those times.

Coming out on the other side of the tunnel

It was grace, karma, luck, coincidence, nothing and being ferried by an angel — because they’re all the same thing. Every time I cross that intersection I’m grateful.

With gratitude comes compassion. With compassion, anything is possible.


About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?