Tuesday, August 11, 2009


"The meeting of two eternities... the past and the future... is precisely the present moment' -Henry David Thoreau.

Buddhists (from what I am told) believe that you can find eternal happiness while slicing an onion. This is a properly symbolic action, as far as I'm concerned. A totally useless act, for the most part. But being present to it, even if you are tearing up and can't even see the onion any more, does that bring you closer to reality? To happiness?
I have been reading a book on and off for a year. It is written by a female American Buddhist monk. She talks a lot about the teaching of now. That this moment is the only real tool that can teach us anything. Even if the moment is pain, it is a guiding star to learn from.

It's hard to believe that sometimes.

Like when I'm walking across the street, arms full of heavy boxes, and all the guys on their Harleys won't let me cross over to my car because they are trying to get a good parking spot for the free booze-fest/live concert going on next door. That moment doesn't feel terribly teaching. It is the counter opposite to what I think of with quiet meditation and Buddhism... gardens and monks and birds and stillness and the oh-so intoxicating idea that meditiation and silence can make you happy.

Nope. Fat guys on Harleys just don't fit. And me getting more and more raged at their disrespect is all too separate from that garden and the birds and meditation. I don't think the Dalai Lama would have images of kicking those guys off their bikes and making them beg for mercy while I pile moving boxes on their sweet little....

But that's my problem, I think. We have monkey minds... we swing from thought to thought, let whatever emotion take over and affect everything.  Soon those Harley guys were Hitler, and I was a little innocent maiden being taken advantage of. But the reality is, I was on a street, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and there were people on a friday night excited to see a free concert and forgetting a small amount of politeness.

Tunnel vision is a real bummer, and we've all got it. 

I think art can be a good reminder of what is really going on now. How many times have you played  a song that reminds you of exactly where you are at that moment? Weird. One of my favorite things is to haphazardly play a song that goes so well with my situation; it's as if the singer is me talking to myself.

I had that last night with Thom Yorke's song "Black Swan". Besides the lyrics, the moment was so fitted. I was looking out the large window of my new studio. The sun was going down behind Lookout Mountain. Telephone wires were silhouetted against the sapphire sky. There is a brick building in front of me that is storage for a medical cream factory. The door is earth red, and the sides are pealed and crumbling, showing gray concrete.  The number 23 is above and to the right of the door, also made of brick. Street lights are lit, but no one is walking under them. I can't stop staring at the 23. So this is where I am, huh? 

23. That's exactly where I was. 

And this song played and it was perfect. Like as if you are watching your own life from aside, not totally in it. Like coming up for a breath above water, and seeing the horizon. And then you tread the water for a while.  You just tread, and you can't fake it. 

1 comment:

shopsmart said...

I can definitely relate with jumping from thought to thought sometimes, but I am interested in your statement of being "an innocent maiden." I am curious as to how long it took to get to that conclusion.

This is all in general by the way. While I am sure there are exceptions, I get the impression that women these days want to be viewed as being independant and strong-willed but not as young maidens. Sure everyone would like a little help now and then but what do you think is a woman's tolerance for expected consideration? I know we are rare but there are a few gentlemen left in this world that are aware of our surroundings. So back to my original question, was the maiden thought instantaneous or did it take an eternity to jump to that thought...say...5 seconds?

In a totally unrelated story. Here is link to an article about an attack on the Mona Lisa. Don't worry, she is still smiling. =)