The First Noble Truth of Parking. ~ Mary Davis

Via elephant journal
on Jul 7, 2012
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The Story:

It starts within moments of waking up.

First, a glance at the alarm clock, then a quick snuggle with Sasquatch, my over-sized Maine Coon cat, and then the calculating begins.

Okay, it’s Wednesday, so I need to get into the parking lot by 9:30 before it fills up. So that means I need to leave here by 8:45, which means I have a half hour to putz around on the computer while eating breakfast before I meditate for a half an hour, which gives me 20 minutes to shower and get dressed. God, I hope the parking lot isn‘t a clusterfuck today.

Then I’ll notice my stomach is already knotted up, and I could have sworn it wasn’t like that when I first opened my eyes

Perhaps it is a sign of an improved economy, but the parking situation at the medical center where I work in San Francisco has been getting progressively worse.

Until recently, I was always able to find a space on my first pass through my preferred lot. Back then, I had the luxury of merely having to practice patience, so steadfast was my certainty that somewhere in the bowels of the lot would be a spot for me.

Waiting in the the funereal-paced queue of cars searching for a spot, I would remember that in those cars were people who were suffering. Perhaps they were suffering from a deadly disease, or just a minor illness, or even an imaginary one. Perhaps they were a nervous wreck worried about getting to their appointment on time. Or perhaps they were tired and stressed from taking care of an ill loved one.

Patience comes easily on the heels of compassion. 

Now, however, with my certainty shaken, generating those lovely minds of compassion and patience in my quest for parking is not so easy, and on some days, downright impossible.

I’ve never been a particularly disciplined or organized person, so my morning schedule never quite goes as planned.

With every minute of slack I grant myself comes the thought Okay, I can still get into the parking lot. I mean, it doesn’t really fill up until 9:45.

So, inevitably, I don’t leave the house until the last possible minute of having any hope of easily getting a spot.

Photo: Honou

Unfortunately, no one on the roads seems to care that I’m on a schedule, and that if I’m late the results will be catastrophic!

Catastrophic, I tell you! So, every few seconds I glance at the clock at my dashboard, carefully calculating whether or not I’ll make it to my destination before my imagined parking apocalypse occurs.

If all goes as planned, and the “Lot Full” sign isn’t up, I can simply breeze in. Immediately, I feel my mind and body relax. All the preceding drama and anxiety is quickly forgotten.

However, if the “Lot Full” sign is up, or if there is line of cars going down the street waiting to get into the lot, that’s when my mental goat rodeo really begins.

With each car ahead of me, I can feel my mind get a bit tighter.

Suffering sentient beings, my ass!

These people are the competition who were out to take what is rightfully mine. The nerve of them to want to get into my lot.

But, I’ll ignore the “Lot Full” sign (as everyone does) and take my place in the slow-moving queue. Rather than a beautiful mind of patience, the best I can muster is grudgeful acceptance of my possible fate of having to endure an unfruitful journey through the five circles of parking hell.

Sometimes it may take a couple of slow, painful journeys down and back up the five levels of the lot, or I may end up trying the lot across the street.

But, when a spot, my spot, finally opens up, an exultant hallelujah floods my soul as if I had just found Jesus, or a favorite earring that I thought was lost forever.

I feel a wave of gratitude that my quest is over, and while I may be a bit flustered, I’m genuinely happy that it all worked out, even if it took a half hour.

Does being mindful of my own insane obsession with parking make it less painful?

Yes, I think so.

Occasionally, I find myself quite amused with the dire consequences I’ve created in my mind that have no correlation whatsoever with reality.

Rather than get angry when my dearest parking wishes go unfulfilled, I simply recognized it for that it is. Parking is dukkha, just another example of Buddha’s First Noble Truth.

Maybe one of these days I’ll have the wisdom to simply let go of all my grasping at expectations around parking.

Or maybe it just might be easier to take public transportation.

Mary Davis is just trying her best to be a decent person and hopes to wake up one of these days. Occasionally, she writes under the pen name LazyBuddhist.


Editor:  April Dawn Ricchuito

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28 Responses to “The First Noble Truth of Parking. ~ Mary Davis”

  1. Sandra Salazar says:

    Great stuff, Mary. Thank you for sharing this with your followers on Twitter.

  2. TMC @ The Buddhist Home says:

    Hilarious! I experience something similar every time I come home to my urban apartment. I'm lucky if I find parking within 2 blocks of my place!

  3. themeanderingmushroomman says:

    since becoming a capitalist I am constantly on the lookout for marketable items such as bumper sticker slogans ~ I think this is a winner and I am stealing it =

    Suffering sentient beings, my ass!

  4. Beth Miller says:

    Yeah, Parking drama……..I experience it three days each week.
    I get in 1/2 hour early in the mornings just to avoid the anxiety, but on my third day, I have the afternoon shift .
    I leave my home and loved activities there at the very last minute and the suffering begins.
    Great work, keep it up.
    Love the Pic!

  5. LazyBuddhist says:

    And thank *you* for reading.

  6. LazyBuddhist says:

    Geez, and I thought "Patience comes easily on the heels of compassion" was going to be the keeper. But, if your choice brings suffering sentient beings to mind, that will work too.

  7. Amy says:

    I lolled! Parking lot rage is really worse than road rage.
    I mean, they are directly competing for my space!

  8. LazyBuddhist says:

    I guess I could leave earlier in the morning to avoid the anxiety, but that makes far too much sense.

    Thank you for the encouraging words. But, with the exception of the bio pic, I can't take credit for any pictures in this piece. Credit goes to the editor for those.

  9. Kirthi says:

    Mary, I so appreciate this post and portal with which to
    see dukkha through fresh eyes and how it ( and the monkey mind that fuels it) shows up
    in our mundane routines. Thank you also for your humor. So helpful on this path on integrating practice.

  10. LazyBuddhist says:

    Oh my, street parking! I believe that is yet another classification of dukkha. Not only do you have the suffering of finding a space, but then you have stress of parallel parking on top of that!

  11. LazyBuddhist says:

    It's amazing how quickly the mind can get so tight with the mistaken belief that somehow a space delineated by two painted lines is somehow "mine". It's so painful, yet completely and utterly ridiculous you just have to laugh.

  12. Mamaste says:

    Just intro'd onFB to: I'm Not Spiritual & Funny.

  13. BJ Cullison says:

    I loved this, Mary! I can see there is a whole other side of you I wasn't aware of. I hope you will write much more.

    Bonnie Jo

  14. LazyBuddhist says:

    Thank you, Kirti. It's so easy to lose mindfulness as we go about our routines, particularly if they're fairly neutral. But, this one was so annoying and so frequent that I had to look at it closely and laugh at how easily, even after years of dharma practice, I fall into the delusion that things should go my way (or at the very least, I should easily get a parking space).

  15. LazyBuddhist says:

    Thank you, Bonnie Jo. Yes, there is more to me than just a slave to my critters. But, if that was indeed all there was, that still wouldn't be bad.

  16. themeanderingmushroomman says:

    they shud be sold as a set

  17. themeanderingmushroomman says:

    seems like the rite place 4 this

  18. Christina says:

    First of all – I didn’t know my dear friend Vicki had a twin, but apparently it’s you 🙂 Love your smile my bloggy friend!

    Secondly – Oh, how I can relate to this!! I plan my day on getting the proper parking at work and I will refuse to go run errands if it means losing garage parking!!

  19. LazyBuddhist says:

    Thank you, Christina. And tell my twin Vicki "hi" for me. Also tell her to call mom. She worries so. 😉

    Parking, at least for those of us who work in larger cities, is a universal source of suffering. Good material for mindfulness.

  20. jhepstein says:

    Haha, this is so perfect and so like me!!! I love this. Sounds like you and me are far too trusting of the universe to work out exactly as we plan it will. Unfortunately, other people are out there getting theirs too, and sometimes that rubs up against my goals.

    Haha. I often consider buying a motorcycle. I feel, for my personality, it's more enlightened to cut through traffic and put my bike in a tight space that won't fit anywhere else, than it is leaving 45 minutes early.

    But then again, I am becoming more professional in my old age… let's see! 🙂

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  21. jhepstein says:

    Y'all thinking licensing or partnership? Or do you just put someone's name after the quote, and it's an OK thing to do in the public domain? I'm not sure how that works, and it'll be fun to find out.

  22. LazyBuddhist says:

    I wouldn't exactly say I'm too trusting of the universe (the universe is a sneaky bastard), but once I acclimatize myself to getting what I want/need and then I don't it because, oddly enough, there are other people wanting the same thing, well, let the suffering begin.

    While getting a motorcycle would certainly reduce some of the traffic and parking dukkha, it has its own forms of dukkha – drivers who fail to see you, bugs in the mouth, helmet hair, etc. But, it certainly sounds like a lot more fun (except the bugs in the mouth thing – that's nasty).

  23. […] The First Noble Truth of Parking. ~ Mary Davis ( […]

  24. sophia grace says:

    I have this same issue with the parking garage at the hospital I work at. Hmpf!

  25. LazyBuddhist says:

    Perhaps it is an intentional ploy at medical centers to make the parking particularly hellish. That way, whatever news or procedure you have to undergo while there seems downright pleasant in comparison.

  26. […] The First Noble Truth of Parking. ~ Mary Davis ( […]

  27. LazyBuddhist says:

    Thank you!