I recently came across “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!”, an award-winning children’s book by Mo Willems. In this story, a bus driver needs to take a break, so he asks the reader to keep an eye on things until he gets back. His last instruction is: “Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus!” As soon as the driver leaves, an insistent pigeon appears, pleading to be allowed to drive the bus. The pigeon tries many angles: direct (“Hey, Can I drive the bus?”), crafty (“Hey, I’ve got an idea: Let’s play ‘Drive the Bus.’ I’ll go first!”), bribery (“I’ll give you five bucks!”). As the pigeon persists and persists, and begins to enter tantrum territory, the reader gets to hold the line and say “No!” What a great reminder for kids (and adults).
If you are having a hard day and feeling challenged, stressed, burnt out, or self-critical, maybe there is a tree, a flower, a lake, or a patch of sky that you can connect with to remind yourself of your interconnectedness with a wider world.
In April 2011, I was invited to Austin Zen Center to offer a dharma talk and workshop on cultivating self-compassion. You can listen to the talk here.