Drive-By Metta

I don’t even pretend to be Buddhist. But, when my friend, Barbara, spoke at church recently she passed on this interesting concept that she’d learned through the folks at the Great Vow Zen monastery. “Drive-by Metta.”

Metta seems to have been defined to varying degrees of intricacy, but it seems to boil down to a meditative practice of some sort. In her talk, Barbara expressed her own version of Metta and put the idea out there that “loving kindness” can be practiced throughout the day and in many situations. I know I’m really over simplifying it here, but the very basic idea stuck with me. When in line at the grocery store, I try to not grumble and count the items in the person’s basket ahead of me. So what if they have twelve items instead of ten? Maybe their day was just a lot worse than mine was, and what good would it do anyone if I said something, really?

Seriously, dude...chill out already.

In my case I think of it as simply “letting it go and not getting caught up in anger when someone does something entirely stupid and dangerous on the road” meditation. It’s a new practice for me, but I’ve needed it a couple of days in a row now. Why is it that someone would travel so close to my bumper, pass me on a curvy dangerous road waving a signal that I wasn’t going the speed limit, just to get on the guy’s bumper ahead of mine? Then, after passing me and tailing the guy ahead of me, the real slow poke I was following at a safe distance, he turned off onto a side road. Less than thirty seconds after the dangerous pass. I don’t get it. I guess I haven’t mastered the concept since I’m still perplexed and even caring about this incident more than twenty-four hours later.

I’m trying to incorporate the “drive-by metta” practice into my driving. When someone else pulled another stupid move today, I said to myself, “Let it go..not my problem…” I can’t even quite remember exactly what it is he did, so I suppose that’s progress.

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