Finding key to happiness, revisit

HDR View of Hidden Mtn valley by D. Nelson

As I prepare for a wonderful retreat at Deer Park with Thich Nhat Hanh and friends, this reflection from last year’s retreat comes to mind.

Mindfulness often is the key to finding happiness in the present moment. And as I am reminded, being unmindful sometimes results in losing the key. After loading up the car with camping stuff, camera and some clothes for another mindfulness retreat adventure, it was finally time to go. Just a little past the late morning start that was planned. One last thing, grab the car key and go. But in my pocket no key was found. Looking, looking where a key should have been, where I might happen to put it. Checking all the pockets of the safari pants. Not in the small backpack as I looked there several times. Breathing calmly, calling nicely out to the key to please manifest. Finally, after a half hour of joyful looking it did call out, “I’m here”, in a bag with clothes. A happy moment. So with a turn of the key, and on the road for the 8 hour journey south to Deer Park.

Hours of pleasant weather and un-crowded, uneventful interstate freeway driving south. Stopping to get gas, walk, stretch and take bio breaks. Was thinking of camping up in the mountains along the grapevine, but as fate would have it, wind, clouds, then rain appeared going over the pass. Oh well, just continue on as daylight would be around for another couple of hours and camping in or near the monastery is fine, even if arriving late. Traffic began to slowww down through Pasadena, thankfully it crawled a bit but never came to a stop.

About an hour north of Escondido on the I-15, taking it easy after 7 hours of driving, I was in the right lane when in dusk’s light suddenly a board appears in my lane. A quick assessment out the window and mirror lets me know that cars are too close behind and to the side for me to instantly change lanes or drastically slow down within fast enough. So boom as the car drives over the plank. It’s clear from the feel, sound and tire pressure monitor on the dash-board that the tire has blown out. Fortunately for being in the right lane and having a shoulder to ease over into. And somehow the car behind slowed down fast enough and went on without collision. Getting out and finding the tire was quite flat, remembering seeing the spare and jack a few years ago when I got the car. After moving the travel stuff it was a relief to find the spare, full of air and ready for service. While jacking up the front end a highway patrol stopped to check on me. I told him about the piece of wood and showed him the tire. He said he had cleared off the wood about a quarter-mile back and asked if I needed any help. I just asked for my location in case I need to call someone who cares. Then I thanked him for offering help, patted him on the shoulder and said everything is alright. After he left and I was finishing changing tires it occurred to me that it will soon feel better driving down the road than being stranded on the side of the road. Tire changed and ready to go, until I reach in my pocket and again find no key. There’s a big hole in these old pants pocket. It’s getting dark then I put the flashlight on my head and look, look, look in the car, on the seat, on the ground. After about ten minutes of looking I see it calling out with a bright flashlight reflection in the weeds near where I was working on the tire. Breathing in, I start driving with the small spare tire. Breathing out I calm my body and smile to no longer be standing on the side of a high-speed Southern California freeway.

Staying alert and present into the darkness with the tire pressure monitor alert light glowing. A memory of being in Deer Park last year manifests. The key had gotten lost near the shower building. It must have fallen out of my pants that I changed out of after a shower. I looked and looked between the short path between my tent and the building many times. I looked and looked down under the porch in front of the building. Even though I still had a couple of weeks before leaving I felt a lot of anxiety. As luck would have it I mentioned to one of the staff about my unhappiness. Turns out he found the key on the ground the day before and brought it to the office. I was quite happy being re-united and not have to call someone to re-key the vehicle. Guess I’m still having opportunities in this life to find the key to happiness through mindfulness, concentration, insight, luck and grace. Perhaps there’s a way to keep the keys attached, without being an attachment.

25 Replies to “Finding key to happiness, revisit”

  1. I really enjoyed this story, thanks for sharing! I absolutely love the picture too, where is that? I finally got one of those long cloth key chains (you can wear as a necklace and it comes in different styles/logos) it has saved me so much time for searching for my keys, it’s so long and colorful that I could never miss it, you should try getting one, haha.

  2. I laughed with joy as I read through this post – no matter the ‘so-called’ calamity that struck you were able to reflect on how things would get better, all would be resolved. But surely, my dear smilecalm, to lose one’s keys so often is a special call to key mindfulness. I hope you have a wonderful retreat and thank you so much for this post.

    1. Thanks for laughing with me, Francis. I’ll keep gently grinding away at that key. And yes I look forward to the retreat time, which is in a few weeks. I’m extra slow in my preparation;-)

      1. It is an excuse to get new ones and go shopping. I do not sew myself at all. Shopping, you can always buy other stuff too. Malls!

      2. LOL see the global stock market. I often wonder why religion, a great 24/7 people service are not there. Captiol gains should have people service in it rather then just commodities, wholesale with retail. Capitol stocks earnings needs to have more people service in it so it is less of a materilaistic capitol earnings in just materail things. The stock market provides and is a top role model too. Retreats, vaction packages, business. Expand the touring companies add religious retreats and camps to them or niche global. Just becuase it hasnt been done does not mean it can not be none and religion needs to be a capitol gain service from the top role model too. Not the top people, the whole top power role model.

      3. A religions travel agency of camps and retreats. I grew up going to some. Get people traveling all over the world with their support groups in religion as well . Travel success is great self esteem building too. Gets adventure into families and other social groups too. Kids could always be included.Nothing like constant eye to eye conversation for people to build their social skills. Humanity is despratly in need of social skill building especally the men. How is that for a key? Go to the top and role model down.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I’ll be going to Deep Park soon, and now will be mindful about my keys. 🙂 Or, maybe I’ll be mindful about my attachment to my keys, my ability to drive myself, and other things.
    That’s a lovely photo of Deer Park from above the stupa.
    Thank you!

  4. Thanks for visiting me at xballerina! I am so glad to be introduced to your profound blog. What a wonderful story. This is exactly what I have trouble with, presence amidst the inevitable craziness that is life and just creeps up. But those are the best learning opportunities. Thanks for sharing…
    In Presence

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