Day 331 – The Walking Dead
There are whole parts of ourselves that are so unwanted that whenever they begin to come up we run away.
Some people live as though they are already dead. There are people moving around us who are consumed by their past, terrified of their future, and stuck in their anger and jealousy. They are not alive; they are just walking corpses. If you look around yourself with mindfulness, you will see people going around like zombies. Have a great deal of compassion for the people around you who are living like this. They do not know that life is accessible only in the here and now.
I saw a young guy riding his bike down Bull Street today. He was at the side of the road pulling his dog behind him on a long leash. The dog was struggling to keep up with the guy. The dog actually started to contort away from the guy and bike the faster the guy cycled.
Cars were flying up behind the pair, pulling around them. The guy was struggling to keep the dog with him until the dog pulled away so much that the guy fell off his bike into oncoming traffic.
Instead of stopping and moving over to walk with his dog on the sidewalk, the guy yanked the leash and yelled at the dog in the middle of the road. The dog just stood, cowering by his side. So, he got back on his bike and continued to pull the dog along. The faster he tried to pull the dog, the more the dog struggled and pulled away. However, no matter how much the dog tried to stop his owner from getting him to run alongside the bike, the owner continued to get more and more angry, yanking the leash harder and harder.
At one point the dog actually ran towards a wall and sat in the grass in front of the wall. He seemed to believe that the wall would stop his owner from pulling him along, but it didn’t work and eventually the dog had to scale the wall in order not to be pulled into it.
I wanted to run up to the dog and save him. I wanted to stop the guy and ask him what the hell he thought he was doing to his dog and why he was treating his dog so badly. I wanted to run up along side the guy and tell him I thought he was having a bad day and ask if there was anything I could do to help him.
Instead I watched him pull his dog farther and faster down the road as the dog struggled harder and harder to keep up. I watched them until they disappeared into the traffic ahead.
Even when we are faced with obvious signs that we are hiding from parts of our whole selves and even when those signs show us that we are flirting with disaster, it’s as if we are blind to ourselves. We are so unwilling and unable to face the worst of ourselves most times, even when we are hurting others, that we lose touch with ourselves to the point that we become the walking dead.
We move around in our lives as if we’re covered in cotton wool, numb and removed from everyone and everything around. We don’t see or understand anyone else’s pain but our own. We don’t want to know anyone else’s pain but our own. We just want to escape from life, escape from ourselves.
I find myself in this situation often. My cotton wool is food, music, movies, television and a few other things I’m sure I’m not fully aware of. It takes a lot of hard work and patient practice to stop myself from being a major player in my own zombie apocalypse, but luckily, with a few wise words from inspiring teachers like Pema and Thay I can see my delusions and begin again.
As their books say: “You Are Here”, “Start Where You Are”.