Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”  
–Ferris Bueller

2016 is the 30th anniversary of John Hughes’ iconic film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. During its run, I was lucky enough to be working at San Diego’s Cinema Grossmont, one of the city’s only remaining single house theaters in San Diego in 1986.  During the day I attended drama classes at San Diego State University where, as aspiring thespians, we learned about breathing, focus, meditation, and being in the moment.  Then at night, I would wander into the theater in my brown polyester uniform, Goodwill tie (we had to supply our own), and a takeout box of stolen popcorn and spend my break watching as Ferris Bueller tried to instruct his best friend Cameron on the importance of noticing what was going on around him.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a huge part of the genesis of my work as a Zen Teacher. And so now, to celebrate thirty years of the wisdom of a boy who realized that life moves pretty fast, I would like to share with you, in no particular order, twelve things I learned from Zen Master Ferris.


1. Sometimes you just need to stay home.*
2. Singing in the shower is a kind of enlightenment.
3. Wearing a suit for no reason sometimes makes things better.
4. Making your hair into a mohawk in the shower isn’t weird, it’s fun, and you should do it more often.
5. Sometimes it’s even MORE fun to stay home and enjoy when you’re SUPPOSED to be somewhere else.
6. If you’re in the parade, you might as well enjoy it.
7. Sometimes you just need to stop and look at a painting, simply because it’s beautiful.
8. If you get an opportunity to ride in a bitchin’ car, you take it.
9. Sitting still during the song “Twist and Shout” is nigh on to impossible.
10. If the authority figures don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, that’s okay.
11. If the world was more accepting of self-care, we wouldn’t need to lie to our parents.
12. If you identify more with Cameron, you need to find your Ferris.

As I crunched on my illicit corn all those years ago, I internalized the zen qualities of our hero and made it my mission to listen to my own impulses when they said, “Slow down. Take it Easy. Don’t forget to stop and look around for awhile,” because Ferris was right—if we don’t, we might miss something.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  is not only a warm and fond memory of mine for its humor and charm as a film, but because it is an object lesson about stopping the Carousel of Life and being mindful and noticing all of the beauty and art and meaningful people all around us—even if the hair isn’t quite as poofy and clothing styles are a little less Day Glo-y than they were thirty years ago.

So these days, when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed or my intuition says it’s time for a little break, I find myself asking one thing. . .


Living by this acronym may not be a foolproof plan, but on the other hand, it’s been three decades and it hasn’t failed me yet. TZT

*Teachers hate this one.