Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Booking a flight on the internet can be exasperating. Especially if you're trying to book it for someone else. I'm sure it would help if I had all the ingredients in hand and arranged ahead of time: airline address; frequent flyer number; pin; all possible destinations, dates, times, seat assignments; credit card number; credit card pin. But I'm not that thoughtful and never totally prepared.

And when I'm in one room upstairs trying to make the arrangements and the person I'm making the arrangements for is in another room downstairs, and we're yelling back and forth to each other, well, you get the picture.

Actually, those dynamics are manageable. I've done it. The new dynamic that grabbed me on this most recent occasion was "time." The options kept changing whenever I had to start over. If I changed the day, and then tried to retrieve my first choice, for the first choice price, it was gone. Slowly I became aware that there were a host of others on their computers and phones, also seeking those last few seats at a bargain price, and unless I hurried and booked, the seats would be gone. I became irritable. The pressure of "time" does that to us.

Our car has a transmission problem. It shifts hard into 3rd. and 5th. gears. I already spent 900 dollars to have it fixed with no satisfaction. We're considering spending another 200 dollars to get a diagnosis; is it fixable or do we need a new transmission. We're trying to be careful when we use the car and accelerate slowly.

Other drivers don't know this, so we're getting the "old people" treatment. Those behind us hug our back bumper and when they can pass, do so with mufflers roaring. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of their irritation as they throw me a cursory glance. I wonder what time pressure drives their frustration.

Gandhi claimed that "haste" was violence. When challenged about how he encouraged quickness in spinning, he made a distinction between haste and speed. Haste has an emotional component. We're being driven by forces beyond our control. What modern culture asks of us is "haste." We live in a time frame of the immediate. We hasten into the future. Do it now! Buy it now! Go now! Book it now!

As an alternative, we might seek the "timeless." I get a sense of it in meditation; in the geology of the Yellowstone caldera; in the wisdom traditions of the human family; and in the resilience of a way of nonviolence, still persisting in the midst of the haste and destructiveness of the modern world.

Carl Kline

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