As I wrote in a November blog post, the idea for Let It Be came to Paul McCartney in a dream. Caught up in the tensions that led to the breakup of the Beatles, the most commercially successful singing group in history, McCartney saw his mother, Mary, who had died 10 years earlier. She told him to let it be, all would be OK.
Each of us can relate to that — being in turmoil and needing to hear the message of McCartney’s song. I spent two and a half hours in the DMV yesterday.
For readers outside the United States, I’ll explain. Those three initials automatically raise every American’s blood pressure. They stand for Department of Motor Vehicles, which is where we go to be treated like peasants in a third-world bureaucracy. But go there we must if we want a driver’s license, or to make changes to an auto registration.
My mission at the DMV was one that had my heartbeat racing even before I opened the door. I had decided it was time to clear up the title to the 2007 Ford F150 that had been owned by my son Thomas, who died on June 1. The particular problems involve the absence of a will, a lien on the title, and a check I wrote in the summer to one bank, which became another bank, which sold its auto loans. You don’t need the details; believe me. After two and a half hours, I walked out without the title but with a plan that necessitates returning to the DMV in a few days.
I trembled for my first hour in the DMV, and then, after numerous cell-phone calls, when the fax that would have solved the problem started failing to arrive, my right eye began twitching. That’s when I realized I know better than to submit to the turmoil. I sat in one of those plastic DMV chairs, closed my eyes and began to meditate. The trembling and twitching stopped. I wasn’t happy, but I was beginning to let it go and return to the present moment.
In Buddhist terms, I had been attached to getting things cleared up yesterday. And aversions are another form of (negative) attachment. I was averse to the way our laws make it hard for us to let the departed go. We’re forced to sort out the odds and ends of their lives, wishing they were here to do it themselves. And I was averse to those damn initials: DMV.
It’s not really hard to let all that go. I realize what I’m doing. I stop, breathe, smile, live in the moment. As long as I’m not in physical pain, nothing can make this moment a bad one other than me.
But what about the world’s problems? Should we let go of global climate change, hunger, genocide, war, poverty, preventable illness, homelessness?
Some of us must let go of the world’s problems because we struggle for enough resources to solve our own. It would be a luxury right now for a refugee adrift on a crowded boat in the Mediterranean to think beyond personal and family survival. But for those of us with more resources than we need, we each must decide how much time and effort to devote to broader causes.
The challenge, though, is to know when we’re becoming attached. My shaking and twitching in the DMV did nothing to get the truck’s title cleared up, and it also did nothing to help the refugee adrift in the Mediterranean.
Sure, the children who are staving worldwide are much more important than the title to a dead man’s truck, but I need to let go of world hunger just as I let go of my angst over the vehicle. I can’t solve either by being attached to it.
— Mel Pine (Fearless Lotus)
Copyright 2016 © Mel Harkrader Pine