Once upon a time…
8.25 am You wake up. The clock has not gone off this morning. “Damn” is your very first thought. You jump from bed and hit the shower. The water is too hot and you stub your toe getting out. In your mind, the day’s activities are being played out. You have three meetings, a training session and an induction to do in the afternoon. You can’t find your wallet. You eventually find it where you left it. You take your usual walk to the station. You hurry your walk until you nearly find yourself jogging. You see your train sitting on the platform and you begin the sprint. You push by someone on the steps and lose your footing and come crashing down on the platform. Your bag slides across the ground hurling your paperwork everywhere and the wind picks up right then and carry them with mean intent across the railway lines as your train pulls out. You shout the F word as the lady you pushed out of the way a moment ago walks past you smiling slightly.
You hail a cab and bemoan the 50 bucks this will cost you. The taxi driver irritates you because he seems so happy. You suspect he may be on something. You arrive at work. The receptionist says good morning and ask you how you are. “Don’t ask” is your gruff reply. In the office your mood pervades the atmosphere. You walk in to the meeting ten minutes late. Someone only has to look at you for you to say – “Don’t even go there” and the meeting carries on. But you can’t really hear what is going on. You are now hot and sweaty and the water from the jug seems tepid.
After a tough day you sit on the train on the way home totally annoyed at the guy sitting behind you whose music is too loud even though he wears headphones. You look at the newspaper and there is violence everywhere. Bombings and threats. Anger and hate. You find something in the story to hate as well. You look around and everyone looks angry.
You get home exhausted. You munch down the tasteless pizza you picked up and decide to hit the sack. You fall into bed and begin a deep but troubled sleep. You don’t realise that in your haste you have forgottento set the clock.
8.25 am You are awake. The clock has not gone off this morning. “What a great sleep” is your very first thought. You sit on the edge of your bed, close your eyes again and take some deep breaths. Outside you can hear a bird sing. You look out the window. The blue sky is splattered with bright fluffy wool like clouds and you smile. In the shower you feel the water run down your body and gently awaken your skin. You dress, grab your wallet and take your usual walk to the station. There is a cool breeze and it caresses your face as you walk. The trees make noise as you pass them by, the wind dancing between their branches. On the platform the train sits patiently. As you arrive at the platform stairway the train departs. You know that there is a train every fifteen minutes and you welcome the opportunity to pick up your book. You sit on a bench smiling at the lady next to so and she returns the smile. You open your book and read:
“Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations. To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”
At work the receptionist greets you warmly and you greet your colleagues likewise in your office. You walk into your meeting late, beam at your audience and tell them that you slept in a few minutes and have now the advantage of feeling twenty minutes fresher than them. A good natured and productive meeting ensues.
After a rewarding day you sit on the train on the way home. You observe the different people around you, most looking down at an iPhone, some listening to music and some reading papers. You turn to the window and watch a sunset, newer and more spectacular than ever!
You get home feeling still. You eat a delicious pizza you picked up on the way and know that it was made with love as you take your time to enjoy the mingling tastes. You decide to hit the sack early. You set the clock and slide into bed and begin a deep but peaceful sleep. And dream.
“Once upon a time, Chuang Chou dreamed that he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting about happily enjoying himself. He didn’t know that he was Chou. Suddenly he awoke and was palpably Chou. He didn’t know whether he were Chou who had dreamed of being a butterfly, or a butterfly who was dreaming that he was Chou.”
With thanks to Alan Watts and Master Chuang