Shifting Gears

Shifting Gears


The Menlo Park conference was over at midnight. A young man asked me, “I heard you live in Berkeley. Could I get a ride with you to the Oakland Navy Base?”

“I don’t know that area,” I answered. “Can you guide us there?”


The ride was slow because of the dark and the pouring rain, but we quickly discovered a shared enthusiasm and the miles rolled by.  Suddenly my rider said, “Turn right at the next light,” then we were at the Base gate. A few more turns, and without prelude he thanked me, jumped out of the car and dashed for the barracks door.

“Wait!” I cried. “How do I get out of here?”

“There’s only one way out. You can’t get lost.” And he was gone.

Now what? I had no idea how I got here. I tried to remember. It was 1:30 a.m. and still pouring. I hoped I could figure it out. After several false turns and passing through completely strange sections of the Base, I knew I was utterly lost. I kept trying to remember; no luck.

Suddenly I found myself facing a high chain link fence with a sign: “SECURITY AREA! Turn off your lights!”

Yikes. I did. I sat there a few moments, trying to collect myself.

Well, I couldn’t stay here. So in the darkness, I jockeyed the car around 180 degrees and turned on the headlights. And there, not 15 feet away, were two does and a fawn, staring into the lights. I was entranced. For several minutes they stood still, then slowly stepped out of the lights and disappeared. Wow.

Then a thought came: something in me got in here and that something must know how to get out; maybe if I just think about the deer…I started the car and drove without error through several turns to the gate. I was on my way home.

It was an intense lesson: if I stay with my intuition and don’t try so hard to reason about everything, my deeper self knows what to do. I began the new practice. It has served me well—well, that is, when I pay attention. When I think of the deer and not the confusion. May we all discover the pleasure of following those inner leads!























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