No Changing Lanes
Last week I was invited to Chogye Sah Temple in Queens for Buddha's Birthday. It was only my second visit to New York and my first time driving. I started out from Newark, and drove through the Holland Tunnel, following directions from a web site. At the entrance to the tunnel it said: NO CHANGING LANES... aha, only go straight! The directions then said "slight right onto Laight Street," but I was in the left lane... uh oh! I missed the turn and was carried along to the next right, which was snarled in gridlock. In front of me a man was shouting obscenities at another driver. Everyone was honking, very tense. What suffering!? Just like a scene from a New York movie and I wanted my money back. When the light turned green I paused to let a guy go in front of me who was trying to cut across traffic. As I motioned him ahead he looked at me with disbelief then lunged forward. Just then the car behind started pushing me forward! What had I gotten my self into? I thought for sure that I would never make it to Queens. A block later I saw my next turn, Canal Street, but again I was in the wrong lane. I yelled to the guy next to me, "Is this the way to the Manhattan Bridge?"
"Yeah," he said pointing, "all the way down there." Thankfully he let me go in front of him. Even in New York we can give and receive help!
As I came off the bridge, I missed my turn and was lost again. After winding around back streets in a Brooklyn neighborhood for a while, suddenly I was heading the right way. A miracle! Feeling reassured, I was soon driving on the Brooklyn Queens expressway and into Woodside, Queens. I thought I was home free but this was New York? just ahead a fire truck completely blocked the intersection! At this point I was so close, I just parked the car and walked the rest of the way. Arriving at the temple I slipped on my robe and joined the Soga Muni Bul chanting.
Our lives are just like this trip to Queens. We set out with a vague idea about where we're going and that there is somewhere to go. We follow the directions, only go straight, don't know, doing together action whether we like it or not. Once you're in the tunnel you can't turn back! Sometimes you just get swept along with traffic. We get lost often and have to trust our intuition. We try, try, try, never giving up... soon we're back on track. Helping others and asking for help, then getting lost again! Just when we think we've finally made it we even have to abandon our vehicle, throw away the directions and continue on our own. Then we enter the Buddha's hall. Funny thing is, once we arrive we realize we have been here all along.