Sunday, July 17, 2011


Picture this:

It's 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday. You're sleeping peacefully, as any rational person would be. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose: you are hit by a wall of sound so overwhelming it feels like your body is being struck. You tumble out of bed, terrified. The cats are already hiding in the closet. You dumbly register the thought, "The alarm is going off," but it feels like so much more than that.

This was my morning. After realizing what was happening, I went through almost comical routine of beating the smoke detector with my palm until I realized it wasn't what was making the noise. No, it was the supposedly-defunct alarm system that came with the house. I've lived here for three years now, and nothing like this has ever happened.

Man covers ears. Like I did.
I'm one of those people who has to learn a lot from movies and/or television. While there have been many cinematic depictions of the "alarm scenario," I realize now that those scenes resonate only with those who've lived it. There's simply no way to convey the volume of sound that they emit. Forget the burglar--the goddamn alarm is scarier than any robber. (Interestingly, the thought of a real break-in only registered in the furthest regions of my mind.)

I was so disoriented that it was all I could do to stumble outside and call the police. As I waited, I apologized to groggy neighbors emerging from their homes to see WTF was up.

And that.... in that period was waiting I had one of "those moments." It was like I got myself quiet and allowed this space to form around me. Maybe it's what they mean when they say "collect yourself!"

One of the lessons we learn as we sit in meditation or do yoga is how to become ever-friendlier with discomfort. The heat wills us to grab the water bottle and guzzle, but we abstain because we know that we will pay for the cool but momentary joy by feeling nauseated in Camel pose. Similarly, giving into the sensation of boredom in meditation ("I'm bored! This is pointless!") leaves hidden places unexplored. Why not push past that sense of discomfort and see what else is there?

I think that's what kinda happened as I was sitting on the stoop in front of my house. The ten minutes since I'd called the police seemed like hours, no doubt exacerbated by the embarrassment I felt in causing my neighbors to awaken at an inhumane hour. As I was sitting, I vaguely recalled a time when the home alarm emitted a quiet but irritating beeping sound. By pushing the asterisk button on the control panel, it stopped. With this in mind, I steeled myself and covered my ears as I ran inside, making a beeline for the control panel. And ya know what? It worked. I hit the button, and the beeping stopped. I cannot tell you the relief that flooded over me--I almost started crying.

Shortly thereafter, the police arrived. They each had their ideas about what to do with the malfunctioning alarm, knowing I would never, ever choose to experience it again. (One of them had the well-intentioned but not-so-bright idea of ripping the control panel from the wall. I ended up paying the neighbor's electrician friend to dismantle it. Funny how much safer I feel now that the alarm is now truly defunct.)

So.... what if I had collected myself a little sooner? What if I had sat in that (albeit extreme) discomfort instead of running around like a headless chicken, calling the police, waking neighbors, and destroying my own property?

Collect yourself a little sooner. It's the task of a lifetime!


Little Piggy said...

hahhahaha! an asterisk! poor cats, lol. poor you, too but you had yoga, so you're fine. thanks for the laughs this morning.

i'm picturing you sitting there doing kapalbhati breathing while rapture is going on behind you. now THAT is zen. :p

Yolk E said...

Hahahaha, Lala :-) It may take me a lifetime or two to get there.

Laughter... it's just the best. Forget medicine, it's just the best.