It's no secret that parking in the city is a bitch. So we've enlisted local parking guru and author of Finding the Sweet Spot, David LaBua, to dish out weekly tips on navigating the ins and outs of city parking.
Rules and structure are indeed essential for an orderly society to function smoothly–especially if that orderly society needs to find a place for half a million cars to park. But, the greater the number and the more complex the rules, the harder and more frustrating it becomes to follow them. This city of ours is phenomenally unique, and parking in this city of ours is a unique phenomenon. With 2 million parking tickets given out per year, 470,000 vehicles roaming the streets and only 320,000 street parking spots, parking is an act that requires significant concentration and, on some days, can require absolute cunning and nearly transcendental calm.
There’s a Zen koan that tells us that in life, there will be obstacles blocking our pursuit of happiness. And that ironically, these very obstacles themselves are the path to happiness. These obstacles bring up anger and frustration because we want to be happy now. We want our needs met now. We want a parking place now. Once the obstacle is overcome, we have a brief impression of everlasting happiness…until we come up against the next obstacle and start the process all over again.
According to Zen folk, the navigation around and through these obstacles is where we learn to minimize suffering, and thus create more space and time for happiness. And parking is the perfect obstacle with which to practice! By going into a rage or a panic, we lose our cool and often miss the joy of what is happening right in front of us (for instance, the joy of the people that we are with or the joy surrounding the event we are about to attend, or quite possibly, the joy of an available parking spot).
An obstacle such as looking for a parking space can cause negativity that can carry dark energy or an emotional cloud into the rest of our day and adversely affect our relationships without us even knowing that it. Or, it can be the very thing to help us cultivate patience, and even a sense of humor. It’s all about how we deal with daily difficulties. With awareness, these challenges can be used as tools taking us into each moment present, relaxed, and with joy surrounding us.
Karma is a belief that the fruits and rewards of our actions are directly connected to the pain and/or joy that our actions bring others. “Traditionally, Karma is the record of all actions from all lives, the consequences for which are determined by the intentions of the act, not the consequences of the act.” It’s not about punishment; it’s about our intent of our actions, and the impact of our actions on others that comes back to us.
This means that you actually have control over your Parking Karma account, which you can compare to a bank account. Your actions have impact on others, and your impact on others impacts your karma account – courtesy makes a deposit in your account; spot-stealing and road rage make a withdrawal by your negative actions coming back to you in another form.
Here’s an example a friend shared with me recently: She was circling in North Beach looking for parking so she could meet up with her friends. No luck. Up and down, back and forth on Columbus Avenue she went. She wanted to catch the green light up ahead, but there was a pedestrian trying to cross a block before. But, she stopped to let him cross and because of it, she missed the light. Damn. However, on her next pass down Columbus, the very same man flagged her down and asked her if she was looking for a parking spot. She said that she was, and he said, “I’m parked right up there, and I’m leaving. You were the only person who stopped to let me cross at that crosswalk. Come and take my spot.”
So, if you’re having a tough time looking for parking, try making a few deposits into your Karma account, and see if your luck doesn’t change. I’ll bet you a quarter that it does.
To find out more about parking karma, to explore some other perspectives of parking, or to learn how to never get a parking ticket again, click here.