Eventually I may forego the illusion that the ripping up of San Francisco streets is a temporary thing, that in six months or so they (whoever they are) will get finished. Cesar Chavez has a lane closed, as does Guerrero. The slow movement of Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin scores the crawl. There are the usual double parked delivery trucks and Moms dropping off their little beloveds who are forbidden to walk on the streets. Up ahead, somewhere around 16th Street, I see the intermittent flash of an emergency vehicle. Traffic is backed up to 20th. While I’m deciding whether to turn off at 18th, a maneuver that might take a few green lights and further bollox traffic, the presto movement kicks in, with its latent promise that we’ll get moving again. More than that, it is a testament that in all this mechanical bustle, this too-much-with-us world, there is incorruptible beauty, breaking the heart and making it whole, again or for the first time.
At 16th there has been an accident. A near head-on. A gray car and a red pickup. Someone was going fast. The gray car’s hood is crumpled. Lanes are closed in three directions. Two cops direct traffic, at first at cross purposes. Even majestic Bach can’t keep my impatience from bubbling into something like rage.
How about some gratitude. It wasn’t me in the gray car. My gray pickup is now rolling right along. And, let’s have a dose of perspective. If I had to do a single commute like Rita does most days in Nigeria from her house to the Centre, I wouldn’t have a feather of sanity remaining. Yes, rolling along now. Bach’s music is an oiled machine producing the sublime.
Crossing Market Street we’re back in the tar pits. On Buchanan where a massive development is rising a platform trailer truck is parked. Now we’re down to one lane and it’s every maniac for himself. I breathe. It occurs to me that a mindfulness practice is just fine when everything is going fairly well but when things get really sticky, I dive into anger and frustration. Is there really any need to hurry? I ask my swim students, can you slow that down? I ask myself, can you slow that down?
Fast, faster, moving to the music. The stitch of arboreal shadows dances through sunlight. We’re getting somewhere.