Terence Krista

Recently I was cut off by some cretin during my morning commute. After a pointless horn blast, I sat fuming and thought, of Cold Mountain. Not the cold mountain where, but the Cold Mountain who.

The Chinese have long revered those who forsake the dust of this world to live in mountains, alone, contemplating the universe. If they are also a poet it seals their reputation. Cold Mountain was just such a recluse, alive during the T’ang Dynasty over 1,500 years ago. After some family tragedy, he took to the hills where he found a cave on Cold Mountain. He made it his home, adopting the name.

Described as a beggar in threadbare clothing, he often sang, laughed and cried to himself. Yet, his first biographer observed, “Every word he uttered was compassionate, meaningful and inspiring.” This odd character left behind some 300 poems. Reading them you are astonished by his insight into the human condition. More remarkable are his descriptions of the natural world. From his perch on Cold Mountain he would rhapsodize over clouds, the moon, the sound of wind. These poems transport you to a place that is magical, alive with the profundity of nature.

One of his poems compares humans to insects stuck in a bowl. Round and round we go, never making it over the edge despite our relentless scrabbling. My days are often like that bowl. The same annoyances gnaw at me; anger at rude drivers, headaches over politics, anxieties from the relentless destruction of the planet. And here’s the clincher. Cold Mountain ends his poem by noting, after all this cyclical angst, one day we wake up to find ourselves…old. As a man on the cusp of retirement I can attest to Cold Mountain’s veracity. Despite my years of outrage, I’m still in the bowl, just old.

But this wise hermit broke free from the circular trap. Look, he advised, and you’ll see clouds, a golden moon. Listen and you’ll hear bird songs, wind through pines, the patter of rain. These things are always present, eternal, pure and truthful. He urged us all to simply stop, consider the clouds and follow the path to Cold Mountain.

With a Perspective, I’m Terence Krista.

Terence Krista is a retiring librarian for the San Francisco Unified School District. He lives in Richmond.

Recently I was cut off by some cretin during my morning commute. After a pointless horn blast, I sat fuming and thought, of Cold Mountain. Not the cold mountain where, but the Cold Mountain who.

The Chinese have long revered those who forsake the dust of this world to live in mountains, alone, contemplating the universe. If they are also a poet it seals their reputation. Cold Mountain was just such a recluse, alive during the T’ang Dynasty over 1,500 years ago. After some family tragedy, he took to the hills where he found a cave on Cold Mountain. He made it his home, adopting the name.

Described as a beggar in threadbare clothing, he often sang, laughed and cried to himself. Yet, his first biographer observed, “Every word he uttered was compassionate, meaningful and inspiring.” This odd character left behind some 300 poems. Reading them you are astonished by his insight into the human condition. More remarkable are his descriptions of the natural world. From his perch on Cold Mountain he would rhapsodize over clouds, the moon, the sound of wind. These poems transport you to a place that is magical, alive with the profundity of nature.

One of his poems compares humans to insects stuck in a bowl. Round and round we go, never making it over the edge despite our relentless scrabbling. My days are often like that bowl. The same annoyances gnaw at me; anger at rude drivers, headaches over politics, anxieties from the relentless destruction of the planet. And here’s the clincher. Cold Mountain ends his poem by noting, after all this cyclical angst, one day we wake up to find ourselves…old. As a man on the cusp of retirement I can attest to Cold Mountain’s veracity. Despite my years of outrage, I’m still in the bowl, just old.

But this wise hermit broke free from the circular trap. Look, he advised, and you’ll see clouds, a golden moon. Listen and you’ll hear bird songs, wind through pines, the patter of rain. These things are always present, eternal, pure and truthful. He urged us all to simply stop, consider the clouds and follow the path to Cold Mountain.

With a Perspective, I’m Terence Krista.

Terence Krista is a retiring librarian for the San Francisco Unified School District. He lives in Richmond.

That we are all overscheduled is never more apparent than out on the freeways where we battle it out to get from one place to another.  Here, the mantra is, "Excuse me, I'm running late, in a hurry, tons to do, so please get out of my way." Of course this urge to speed things up creates all kinds of stress and anxiety, to say nothing of accidents.

So what is one to do? Well, I'm here to tell you I have found a new sense of peace and balance behind the wheel of my car and I didn't have to join a meditation group or yoga class to achieve it. I simply changed lanes.

First, observe the fast lane. No matter how speedy you think you are, there is always someone behind who thinks you're hopelessly slow. The other lanes are a mishmash of people struggling to get that one car length ahead certain they could get there faster if only they could get ahead of you. It seems they have yet to discover trying to get anyplace quickly in the Bay Area by going faster is surely a fool's errand. How many times have I watched some speedster zigzagging ahead of me on the Bay Bridge only to find that same driver next to me at the first red light in the city?

Therefore, if you desire a more joyous way of driving, please join me in the place where I have found calm and composure – the far right lane. That's right, the slow one. By slowing down I still get where I want to go, just a few minutes behind the rest of you. Now, it takes some training as any rewarding challenge does. Cruising along at 55 mph in the slow lane while everyone seems to zip past can make you want to give in and join the fray. Resist the temptation. Breathe deeply. Put on some relaxing music. Look around. Behold, you catch glimpses of sky, hills and water now that you're no longer so focused on the car ahead.

Tom Magliozzi, half of the beloved Car Talk team, passed away last year. He famously advocated making the national speed limit 35 miles per hour. Who would know better? So go ahead, take the challenge and move to the right. Watch as the fast lane drivers rush onward like lemmings as you smile calmly, knowing that slow and steady always wins the race.
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With a Perspective, I'm Terence Krista.

Terence Krista is a teacher and librarian for the San Francisco Unified School District. He lives in Richmond.

Okay Bay Area, I have one little request. Would it be possible, just maybe, kinda, sorta, to quit beating up on Richmond? You know, that little city at the end of the BART line? I know Richmond's had its share of problems. High crime is nobody's idea of fun and an oil refinery is nobody's idea of beautiful. But things are different now. For one thing, crime is down. Way down. And that's kind of the thing. When people hear about crime in Richmond, they just sort of roll their eyes and say, what do you expect, it's Richmond.

But how many of you have ever even been here? Richmond is sort of like the Bronx. Everyone's heard of it but nobody's been there. If San Francisco is like New York and Oakland like Brooklyn, then Richmond is the Bronx, which means lots of hard working middle to lower-middle-class folks. And that, people, means diversity, something us Richmonders are justifiably proud of. There's an established African-American community, a Latino community consisting of Spanish speakers from Mexico to all points south. Don't forget our vibrant Laotian community. I live a block from their Buddhist temple, Wat Lao Rattanaram and on weekends gongs and chanting fill the air. Richmond is a major cultural mash up.

As for the sights, walk or bike along the Richmond Marina Bay Trail with its jaw dropping views of The City. Take in the amazing Ford Richmond plant, Albert Kahn's brick and glass masterpiece, and the neat Rosie the Riveter Visitor's Center next door. There is a very cool mid-century civic center on Barrett Avenue that includes the Richmond Art Center, a 75-year-old institution that brings art to the masses. Don't miss the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in the historic Winter's Building downtown.

Take lessons in singing or dance, learn to play an instrument or catch a performance of the local talent. And Richmond has tons of affordable studio space in funky warehouses for struggling artists priced out of San Francisco or Oakland. We even have our own little gentrified area, Point Richmond. Cute shops, nice restaurants and a village vibe.

So this is an open invitation. Visit Richmond sometime. There's a lot to see and experience. Who knows, you might even like it. And please, quit rolling those eyes.

 With a Perspective, I'm Terence Krista.