As I sat on the subway this morning I noticed an elderly man who was sitting next to his elderly wife. He was reading the newspaper and casually looked up. A warm smile came across his face and be waved. He waved to an toddler who was sitting in her mothers arms across from him on the train. The child looked and said nothing and then the man nodded to the child as if to acknowledge some unspoken communication between them. As if to say, "Yeah, I know. I've been there. It's going to be alright."
I thought how nice, how comforting, how warm and how gentle. I thought of the life cycle, the passing of life, the elderly man nearing the end of his current life cycle and the child just beginning hers.
Then I looked at the man who casually went back to reading his newspaper and thought he's moving slowly, deliberately moving slowly. And that reminded me of a realization I had 20 years ago almost to the month.
We fly through life with speed, with an urgency always trying to "get ahead" "make the deal" "get the job". We have to hurry, hurry, hurry. And as I sat there watching this man, his wife now sleeping on his shoulder, I was struck by the fact that he is hurrying nowhere.
The faster we move in life the more impermanent it becomes. We move past the joys, past the love, past the green grass, past our lives as we speed our way to our eventual fate, which is the end of our current life and our goals...don't exist anymore. They like us are gone.
He, the man, recognized that (or at least that's what I projected on him at that moment...who knows) but I recognized that, I saw that in him.
He moves slowly not because he must but because he chooses to do so to actually see what is there, to enjoy what time he has left.
"This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds
To watch the birth and death of beings is like
looking at the movements of a dance.
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky,
Rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain."
- Buddha (563 - 483 BC)