Visualizing A Moment Of Peace

Even a nondescript deli counter can serve as a tranquil lake to reflect upon inner peace and happiness | Jane Esaki photo

Even a nondescript deli counter can serve as a tranquil lake to reflect upon inner peace and happiness | Jane Esaki photo

The driver in front of us always seems to be going at the right speed when we are simply enjoying the verdant natural scenery around us. If, however, we are in a rush, that same driver is too old and needs to get off the road.

I have been both the ethereal and the complaining driver following from behind, but I also have been the old, slow-witted one in the front causing distress to some drivers behind me. So, for me, it’s unfair that I get irate about anyone in front of me.

The other day I was at the deli section at the neighborhood supermarket and, I swear, everyone within 10 feet of me was conspiring to test my ire. I was running late, but I only wanted a half-pound of green salad, and there was only one person ahead of me being served, albeit very slowly, in the adjacent hot foods section. Only one person, that is, until a group of three ambled to the front of that section and rooted themselves as next in line to be served by the only counter help. The server finally finished with the first customer, but instead of asking who’s next in line, she went right to the trio.

“What am I, invisible? Can’t you ask ‘Who’s next?'” I thought.

I could’ve interrupted the flow to demand my first position in waiting.

But no, I should exercise humility as penance for all the times I have been an inconvenience to others.

Also, this was a food line, for goodness sake, and no one wants a bad taste in their mouth after an experience tainted by an egregious act of impatience on my part.

So I let out not a peep while the three customers held a board meeting over Korean-style or original fried chicken.

Instead of waiting for the proverbial pot to boil, I tried to conjure up whatever greenery I could imagine in the middle of this garden-variety supermarket, a challenge for even the finest visualization guru.

After the mind stopped its incessant chattering, I felt a moment of peace. At that instant, I glanced over my shoulder and noticed a lanky, quiet man who once did a job for me. He looked at me, too, but didn’t quite seem to recall who I was. I wasn’t going to say anything — until he came up to the hot foods counter after the trio departed.

Lest I get ignored again by the server, I quickly put in my order, then called out his name and reintroduced myself.

He looked up and said, “I didn’t recognize you. You look so peaceful and happy.” Then he added, “How can I be like you?”

He caught me at a good, rare moment.

“Why aren’t you?” I asked with curiosity.

In so many words, he revealed the burdens of his life — work, family and future goals — weighing heavily on his shoulders.

Luckily, I told him, peace and happiness are already within us, a boundless treasure to tap.

“How do you tap into it?” he asked.

Once aware of its existence, I replied, I hold the thought and become one with it, like being in the middle of a forest and indulging in all its beauty and perfection. He listened and wondered out loud if he could do that, yet conceded that he would certainly try his best.

I’m no spiritual, religious or metaphysical master by any stretch either, but if a supermarket deli line — or anywhere else, for that matter — begs for a forest to be imagined, then why not visualize and indulge, even if for a moment?