Fast Lane – Slow Lane

By Jeremy Tetsuo, Japan 2013

I love this life.  Thirty-four yrs since I chose to follow an opportunity to explore THE BIG QUESTIONS, when I took the step to enroll in a M.A. of Theology program.  I’m still asking and exploring big questions and sometimes a light goes on.  This happened yesterday as I was pondering ‘why I am so passionate about encouraging everyone to do the work of dying now, by fully accepting the inevitability of our own deaths and making the most of every moment of life we have to leave only good when we’re gone, instead of waiting until we are lying in our death beds.’Then I wondered what the obstacle(s) are that prevent so many people from doing this?  I know I don’t know all the answers, and would love to hear from you to help me understand more.  But I was reminded of the Emperor Constantine, (early 300’s AD). Constantine altered the course of history by making Christianity the State Religion. In other words, it became a crime to not be a Christian. Yet, as I remember the story, he never had himself ‘baptized’ a Christian until on his death bed.  Since, as soon as he became Baptized he would be ‘washed clean’ and all his sins would be forgiven, why bother changing anything about how he lived his life?  And I thought…I guess he just chose the Fast Lane instead of the Slow Lane.      

Then I realized that THIS was the/an answer to why I’m so passionate about ‘you-know-what’.  In another post I talk about my Retirement Project.  One part of it is to work the ‘experiment’ of really living each day knowing that it could be my last.  And it has been fun for the most part.    But…. this is the Slow Lane;  no rapid fire, speed reconciliations; no ‘seeing The Light’ or ‘Waking Up’ or Conversion of Heart or Enlightenment when death is imminent.  Thirty four years is pretty slow going, but I keep asking questions and learning. I prefer the more scenic route of the Slow Lane.

It’s been 7 months since I retired and it has been an amazing experience.  I don’t know if I will ever get most of it into the blog, but it has been life changing.  Fully experiencing the Fantastic Good Times as well as the ‘stomach dropping’, ‘floor falling from under you’ kind of ones.  It’s definitely a Roller Coaster Ride and I love Roller Coasters;  this morning I decided that this must be what it feels like to be ‘Doin’ the Tao’.   And this brings us back to the fact that ‘The Path Is The Goal’.

Dying with a clear conscience, full acceptance of the impermanence of all things, and being filled with loving-kindness and peace is a good thing. Living this way is even better.   Shortly after I was accepted into the Graduate Program I was invited to join in The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius; a 40 week commitment to one hour per day of reading selected texts, meditating / contemplating them, journaling my experience, and meeting with a Spiritual Guide once a week.  My thinking was that ‘if I could do this while also tending to my studies, running our business, and being present to my husband and children’ then I could continue to pursue The Big Questions through anything.

I mention this here because I was being asked to change many of my long-held habits, and even beliefs.  We ALL know how much we ALL just love to change habits :(.  But what I experienced was that by taking little steps, and sticking with it that new behaviors began to really stick.  It took quite awhile before I could pay mindful attention to reading, meditating, and journaling for an hour.  To this day there are times when 5 or 10 minutes is all I can do.  If you are experienced in self-reflection and meditation, then you don’t need this.  If you are new, and want to practice, find a practice and stick with it.  I may occasionally link to some good resources from here, but all you need to really do is try.