The Art of Giving Directions

By: Tory  |  Published: September 27th, 2011   |  Category: Buddhism, career, Funny Stuff, pema chodron, Rants & Raves, Tory Shulman News

So there I was yesterday walking my dogs in my absolute coolest outfit. Usually I walk the dogs in sweats resembling a homeless person who just got kicked out of her tent. But today I decided to make an effort. I had on a skirt with cute sandals and a beautiful purple knit top with a darling brown belt pulling the whole thing together like the Dude’s rug. I felt good. I felt sexy. I felt super LA but in a New Yorky kind of way. Suddenly a blue van pulls up behind me and slows down. I keep going and he rolls with me a few feet.

“Oh great” I thought to myself.
“Here we got some guy out to whistle or stare at my ass and make kissy sounds, it’s so annoying. Hey where the hell are the kissy sounds?? I want the kissy sounds!!”

So I turn around and face the van and in it is a stoned young gentleman, clearly born of the surfer type.

“Could you tell me how to get to Croft?
Sure. You want to go up to Fountain and take a left.
A left?
Yes a left.
Cool. Thanks
No problem
Ciao.”

I remember the convo so well because the “ciao” at the end was super awkward for both of us and it reminded me of the ‘Dirty Dancing’ line “I carried a watermelon.” Anyhoo, just as I was making a mental note to Netflix ‘Dirty Dancing’ I saw the back of the surfer’s van up ahead approaching Fountain Ave. He made a stop and deliberately turned right.

“No, no, no. You turned the wrong way surfer dude. Oh geez, he’s going to go so out of his way. This is awful. Did I point the wrong way like an idiot?”

Immediately I was consumed with guilt and worry and sweat beads appeared at my hair line. That guy I didn’t know at all was going to be late for something I knew nothing about and yet it still bothered me. Until my three years of Buddhist work finally came into play and I stopped myself cold and said outloud:

“Thinking about this man and his wrong turn is a complete inefficient waste of your time. Move on.”

First, I was so proud the Buddhist thing had worked but secondly it reminded me EXACTLY of what I have been saying to myself about acting all these years. You cannot force the direction in which your career will take. Obsessively thinking about it is an inefficient waste of your time.

What a fantastic visual understanding of this. You told the guy that he should turn left. You know for a fact he should turn left. His life would be infinitely better if he turned left. But you cannot force the fucker to turn left. You can wish him well and work on the craft of giving directions but you cannot make that turn for him.

Fashion Forward? Check
Dogs Peed? Check
Sincere Buddhist moment with Never-Again-To-Be-Seen surfer dude? Check Mate.

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