The Zen Master

My father is a Zen master. I can count on one hand the number of times in my entire life that I’ve seen him go ballistic. Fortunately, none of those seismic events were directed at me. If they had been, I would have crumbled into a pile of dust, never to return to human form again.

However, those types of angry outbursts on his part are almost as rare as Halley’s Comet and usually involve someone messing with his family. A word of advice, you don’t ever want to mess with my family or my father will turn into the Incredible Hulk. Most of the time, he is serene, placid and positively oozing with the kind of patience that would make a Buddhist monk jealous.

My mother, on the other hand, is a worrywart. She constantly frets and works herself into a lather at the slightest commotion. Somehow, these two opposites attracted. It seems to work for them since they’ve been together for nearly half a century. My father has a calming influence on my mother and her anxiety flows off of him like water off a duck’s back. It has very little impact at all.

Of the two personalities, I lean towards my father’s side. I’m typically easy going and don’t worry about things all that much. I take things as they come and very rarely do I work myself up into a tizzy like my mother. Like my father, I’m not concerned with material possessions; as long as things function within desired parameters, that’s good enough. I don’t get upset if events don’t work out according to some unrealistic plan I’ve worked out in my head. I’m generally tolerant, relaxed, and amenable to change. I bend like a reed rather than break.

I’m a lot like my father, that is, until you put me behind the wheel of an automobile. Once I’m in a car and I get to experience first-hand the soaring level of idiocy displayed by the human race in a way that could, quite literally, personally impact me, I’m no longer a Zen master. All of the teachings of my father, all the lessons he has imparted regarding tolerance and patience go right out the window, along with middle fingers and ferocious insults. I’m no longer capable of restraint and many not so nice epithets go hurling towards my fellow travelers.

Perhaps if I had lived in another era, things might be different. Maybe if I had been born into a future where we finally have the much touted Jetsons‘ cars that automagically take you to your destination without fuss nor muss, I could maintain my serenity a little better. Or, if I had been born into a pre-automotive era, I might be more capable of restraint. If I had a horse and buggy, I might not get so angry at vehicular idiocy. Although, I’d most likely be just as angry at fellow horse carts instead.

So, while I’m quite happy to be as much like my father as I am, I wish I was even more like him. I wish that my veneer didn’t break down in traffic. I hope that, perhaps with more age and experience, I will find a way to completely master my anger and only allow it to appear in defense of what I hold dearest like my dad. Perhaps when he was my age, he was just like me and it took him decades to hone his skill. One thing is for sure though, I couldn’t find a better teacher than my father. I will continue to follow his path and hopefully, eventually, master his Zen-like ways.