Saturday, February 17, 2007


We left the Bergamot Station art gallery complex a little before 4:30 after our art walk Thursday. Bergamot Station is between Olympic and the 10 Freeway at 26th Street in Santa Monica, so there was good reason to believe that we were leaving plenty of time to make it to midtown, Melrose and Highland, in good time to make our 5PM dinner reservation. (We had made it so early because this restaurant has become so hugely popular that, with a good week's notice, we had been unable to get a table after 5PM!) As it turned out, we arrived at the restaurant forty-five minutes late for our appointment--and the table, of course, was gone.

Okay, it's getting to be a bore to complain about it, but it seems that the traffic in Los Angeles is getting worse by the day. After leaving Bergamot, we ran into nearly stationary lines of it on Olympic more than ten blocks before the 405 Freeway. After twenty minutes or so, thinking that it must be some dreadful accident that was holding us up, we cut north to Santa Monica Boulevard, and then east toward the freeway underpass and on through Beverly Hills. Same problem. The traffic was blocked solid, inching forward at the change of every light. Three, four, five light changes before we actually managed to cross an intersection. Same thing through Beverly Hills.

It's in situations like this, I confess, that I find it hardest to put those wonderful Buddhist principles into practice. Equanimity at zero miles per hour, sitting amongst the fumes of a hundred vehicles hemming you in--to me, this is a near-impossibility. I tell myself to breathe, but the anger and frustration continue to sizzle--and occasionally explode when my lane seems to be the only one that's stalled. Until, of course, I sneak into the next, which seems to be making at least minimal progress, and that one stalls instead, while the one I've left starts up with a burst of unpredictable speed. Or when one of those rude drivers zooms ahead and cuts in front of me from another lane--no matter that I've just done the same myself. Ah, yes, goodwill. Compassion... Equanimity, hell!

Well, cell phones have their uses, and Ellie was able to call ahead to let the restaurant know we would be late and ask them to hold the table for as long as possible. At five o'clock, they offered, tentatively, another twenty minutes. At that time, we even thought we might be able to make it. Vain hope! We did stop by the restaurant at 5:45, but by then it was already far too late. We drove on to a restaurant closer to home and drowned our sorrows in a nice bottle of coastal pinot noir.

Arriving in Laguna yesterday mid-afternoon, we were appalled to find gridlock here in the village too. We tolerate the summer crowds, and do most of our travel here on foot. But we usually expect to be spared, off-season. Is there nowhere to escape this curse of contemporary civilization?


carly said...

P: I can see that to make any headway in Los Angeles, I will have to get more in touch with my 'female side'.

carly said...

P: Today's contemplation: Most art galleries spotlight personal statements of inward emotions. I have been more concerned with large human problems outside myself.

My lesson today drawn from the Book of Changes is:

Gathering Together (Massing)
the Joyous and the Receptive.
It furthers one to undertake something

Gathering is either in large communities or the State. Where men are to be gathered together, religious forces are needed. Only collective moral force can unite the world, around a leader, a center of the group, who must be first collected within himself.

Such great times of unification will leave great achievements behind them. This is the significance of the great offerings that are to be made. In the secular sphere likewise, there is need of great deeds in the time of Gathering Together.

The superior man renews his weapons. (in my case art)
In order to meet the unforeseen.

9 in the first place:

People are in a large group and waver in their decision. They lack a firm center around which to gather. But if expression is given to this need, one grasp of the hand from the leader is enough to turn away distress. They must not allow themselves to be led astray and attach themselves to this leader.

lori said...

ah but peter, the lesson was obviously to relax and go with the flow, which we all know in LA means sitting in traffic until you want to pull your hair out. i have found that if i slow myself down and get in tune with the movement around me, i never feel late...even if i happen to be according to the clock.

traffic really IS a state of mind...or at the very least, an opportunity to test our theory of relativity.


PK said...

Have your lovely wife bring along a good book that she can read aloud for the both of you. After each page, or chapter, discuss it. Listen to restful music. May as well relax, it takes up less energy, and you won't stress out, and remember, there are hundreds like you, right there, in the same position you are. Be a rebel! Don't think like they do! Take a stance!... be calm;D. Have a pleasant day Peter...

Cynthia said...

P & E:

Don't like speeding to destinations either, tenseness in the rushing......also very challenging......the classical music helps me and not having a time constraint.... silly to internally bother ourself so much about feeding...
Miss you both.......cynthia