Ziggy-Stardust-david-bowie-5554079-350-467 A funny thing happened on the way to deliver a speech about breathing.

The speech was scheduled for 10 a.m. in Cleveland (three hours away) and I was nervous about everything: getting there on time, and getting there with the speech finished and right.

I hadn't slept well, fussing with the speech all night for several nights — so I was tired. Anxiety pushed me out the door at 6 a.m.

To be extra alert for the drive (and the speech), I stopped along the way for a double shot of espresso.

I was cranked up.
Car windows wide open for the springtime air, Ziggy Stardust blaring, and — yes, I'm sorry — I was exceeding the national speed limit.

Suddenly, a Ohio State Trooper, in the highway median.

He sees me speeding and swings his car into the lane behind me. He trails me for five long minutes over five long miles. What was he doing? Running my license plates in the computer?

Oh, the feeling of receiving an impending ticket. It's just the feeling of being so stupid. I didn't truly need to be speeding. I would have been on time in any case. Blame Ziggy Stardust and Juan Valdez. And me.

Then the trooper pulled away, into the right lane, and exited the highway.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

The Funny Part of This Story
When I arrived, I met the Buddhist teacher who would offer the invocation and closing blessing at the Graduation Ceremony where I was to speak.

How wonderful. I asked Shih Ying-Fa several questions about Buddhism. He is a generous and kind teacher.

So I asked of him a favor: "I will be speaking about Buddhism. Even if I say something patently stupid, would you please nod as if what I am saying is worthy?"

He smiled and agreed.

So I asked him another question. I told him about my drive up: the coffee, the speeding, the Ziggy Stardust, the trooper, the near ticket. I asked, "What sort of person almost gets a speeding ticket on the way to deliver a speech on Buddhism?"

He smiled and says: "Someone who is running late?"

Nothing beats a Buddhist punchline.