I broke my brain. I’m not talking about the one in my head, but about a plastic model that I use for mindfulness trainings. You can take it apart, see all the sections as you learn what each part of the brain does. I never lead a mindfulness training without my brain.
But I forget to use my real one all the time.
I found myself running late to a recent training. I had spilled coffee on one shirt and had to change clothes as I was walking out the door. Climbed in the car, then had to run back inside to retrieve a forgotten ipad. The roads were slick and treacherous, rain falling as if to wash the world away.
Normally, I am an almost aggressively prompt person. Running late is an anxiety trigger, leaving me nervous and overwhelmed. I like to arrive anywhere ten minutes early to sit quietly in my car and breathe. As frantic and overly energetic is my default setting, a few deep breaths helps me show up as my most present, authentic self.
Meanwhile, back in the car, I’m having a very mindless fall to pieces, rushing and cussing and driving too fast for the current weather and road conditions. Approaching the parking lot, I swerve quickly into a space, hearing the squeal of tires. Grabbing my purse, I haphazardly shove in my ipad, some books, the training notes. Jumping out of the car, I throw my brain on top of my stuff and race for the entrance, slamming the car door behind me.
And in the process, slam my purse strap in the car door. The strap snaps cleanly off and my purse explodes, the contents raining down like the fat drops from the heavens. My brain shoots out into the street like a rocket, just as a car drives by, swerving and honking. My brain is now in 8 pieces, scattered across the wet road. Another car drives by and cleanly over a piece of my brain. Picking up the now misshapen lump, I see it’s the cerebellum, or hindbrain. It might interest you to know that the cerebellum is responsible for coordination and accurate timing.
Yup. Accurate timing.
Getting wetter by the minute, I can do nothing but stand there, absorbing the irony. God has an amazing sense of humor. I was about to teach other people how to lead a mindful life in the most mindless, oblivious state possible. I mean, my brain is literally in pieces on the ground. The lesson was accurate timing, indeed.
I like to say that God stands for General Orderly Direction. The Big G is always trying to nudge our life in the right direction, always offering us the tools we most require to live our best lives. When G Man wants our attention, he might tap us on the shoulder. If we keep ignoring him, he will break our arm. Or run over our brain, I guess. My broken brain didn’t happen to me but instead for me, my seven billionth divine reminder to slow down and enjoy the moment.
Rushing is a distraction, a tale that tells us we matter. But rushing places us squarely in some unknowable mental future, a fugue state where there will never be enough time. The more we rush towards it in frustration, the further it slides out of our grasp. We cannot control time, only our reaction to it. I know this. For Pete’s Sake, I teach this. Why do I keep forgetting?
That’s when Beckner Street became my Damascus Road. I think about the biblical story of Saul and how, even after numerous divine nudges, he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see the light to accept magic into his life. So the Big G took his literal eyesight but granted him figurative visions. I imagine him finally opening his eyes, blinking from the flash of insight, chagrined by his thick-headedness. Riiiiiight, I imagine him saying. Have faith and trust the divine signs.
I also bet that Saul didn’t get too far down Damascus Road before he screwed up again. He forgot the lesson, showed up as a real nincompoop, acted selfish and greedy, let his stupid ego drive the skin bus. Because that’s what humans do. We learn, we try, we get better, we do better. Then we forget, act idiotic, disconnect from grace and gratitude and the glorious now. We rush around like headless chickens and then are surprised when our brains roll out into the street.
But if we’re willing to pay attention, we get eternal cosmic do-overs. Divine guidance is available for the taking if we’ll only pay attention. But we can only receive the messages when we are connected to the now.