To hear Bill Durham share highlights from his 45 years on the key leading up to the present moment, it sounds like forces guided him along to his reinvented former bicycle shop turned Miami Meditation Center in the Square Shopping Mall.
Durham left the apple orchards of home in Wenatchee, Washington with his parents after high school graduation when his scientist father was transferred to Miami.
While a University of Miami philosophy major, Durham managed a bike repair store on the key. After it closed, he and then girlfriend Linda got the inspiration, and green light, to set up their own shop behind a gas station out of their van. Today it is the site of the Pankey Institute.
“It was kind of an inauspicious beginning back in 1973,” said the ordained Buddhist Monk whose new given name Dairyo, means great friend. “But people were very kind…there was always a helping hand.”
The novelty of bike-shop-hippie-van quickly waned as neighboring mosquitos demanded recompenses in blood. Fortuitously, a client, Cliff Strauss, introduced him to Bob Beans of Bay Plumbing.
“We had never met before but he said to us: ‘Hey I have a store I’m not using, would you like to be partners and you can move in there?’” The couple agreed and the 42 year era of “Bicycle Bill” began.
He took pride in fixing broken bikes for customers and established enduring friendships with regular bike-renting seasonal tourists. He became official volunteer cyclist lead for the Lighthouse Run runners so they wouldn’t get lost off course…again.
It was during one of those rides that Durham turned to meditation.
“I’m looking at the peaceful trance-like expression on their faces and they’re not feeling any pain. In my naïve mind I thought maybe it was a meditation thing and that was the impetus.”
“Every day is a good day” is the motto inscribed beside the entrance of the not-for-profit center open daily. Founding teacher Durham said their focus is a simple secular search for “peaceful abiding.”
“Today is all we have. Instead of delaying happiness until we get this job, or this car, we ask ourselves: ‘what can we do to be happy right now?’
It’s a tough question and the answers don’t come overnight. But with consistent practice you develop a kind of trust and settling into the way things are.”
According to Durham, everyone has an inner voice that can guide them to a peaceful place within, no matter how churned up their mind might be from television news or holiday blues. It starts by sitting in silence with the breath. But he doesn’t recommend going it alone.
“If you were training for a 100 mile century (bike) ride, you couldn’t do it alone. Meditation is a lonely difficult road at home by yourself. Having a dedicated place where community building is a big part of it is an auspicious beginning.”