Sunday, November 27, 2005

At Home


At first, I didn’t think too much about it.

I woke up in the early morning with an intense pain. It wasn’t food poisoning and it wasn’t any other discomfort that I am familiar with.

For no particular reason, I got out of bed and walked downstairs, maybe just to try to walk it off. When I got back upstairs, I started looking for the ibuprofen. It was on the top of my dresser, or at least it should have been there. I couldn’t find it though.

Then, I felt like I was going to pass out.

The next thing I remember, I was on the floor. My head was resting against my full length mirror. I must have looked like a drunk with his back against a dark alley wall. Underneath me was a choir of my recently worn shoes. More importantly, at least for the news photos, I was in my birthday suit.

I thought of Janelle finding me like this when she got home.

It was far funnier than you might think.

My bed side table had a few things knocked off of it. On the other side of my dresser, some ties had been knocked off their rack and had consequently found their way to the floor too.

After a moment or two, I got up and slipped into the cool sheets of my bed. The pain was gone and I went right to sleep.

The next day everything seemed about normal.

I went to my favorite coffee shop, ordered my red eye, and began to watch as my caffeine brethren came through the door, assessed the length of the line, and with no exceptions, patiently joined it.

As they came in though, I could see their faces with a certain clarity. It wasn’t like I could read their thoughts, but I could clearly sense their emotions. They were as easy to read as the menu behind the cash register.

One was troubled.

Another was expecting to meet someone.

Still another was late for something.

Then Janelle walked in.

She was happy… no she was triumphant.

It turns out that she had just found the perfect gift for our friend's baby shower while she was away on assignment.

I told her what was happening to me.

“Max, baby, you are a walking talking episodial twilight zone,” she says.

“No really,” I protested.

She gave me a big kiss and lovingly dismissed me and my newly acquired superhero powers.

All the rest of the day, I honed my new sixth sense. No longer was there this mystery of how gurus could tell everything about you just by a glance. Christ, your emotions are all over your face.

As the evening came and Venus showed its first twinkling, I saw a man walk by whose emotions I could not read. Actually, I could read them, but his emotions were totally foreign from all the others I had sensed during the day.

When he looked at me, his eyes had a depth that I had not seen since I chased down that jnana yogi in San Francisco so many years ago.

He seemed to say to me to follow him. So, I did.

We walked to the park next to the government center and we sat on a wooden bench. We sat silently for a while and watched the pigeons scurry around as the bundled up children ran deliriously between them.

After about a half an hour, I asked him who he was.

He said he was some kind of Buddhist Priest, a bodhisatva I think.

I asked him what was the emotion that I was sensing.

He said that he practiced “mindfulness” while he walked,

That he is perfecting the heartmind.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It is the creation of the union of the heart and the mind,

Of consciousness and compassion,

Of the one with the other.

We call it Chitta.”

Around eight, I found myself apparently sleeping on the park bench.

I looked up at the couple that was walking by.

They looked at me in a poorly veiled disgust.

They thought I was homeless.

But I was very much at home.

*

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice. I never know whether these stories are truth or fiction. The presense of Janelle helps, but I wonder about her too. MS

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Park bench?

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the way you can story in so few words. Your blog is one of my favorites. keep it up.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice story. A small detail, that in no way subtracts anything from it, is that, technically, at least in Mahayana Buddhisms, we are all bodhisattvas, but, technically, if you claim to be one it means you haven't uncovered it yet. However it's common in Zen sanghas for a teacher to refer to everyone in the assembly, presumably including herself, as bodhisattvas. Thus this would not be a false assertion of attainment.

7:29 PM  
Blogger head lem said...

We Lemmings find it rather curious that you Humans do not understand the basic construct of the mammalian brain. You refer to the combination of layers as "heart and mind" without truly understanding that the "heart" part is mostly your limbic layer. You insist that you are purely "rational" creatures despite all evidence to the contrary. Very curious behavior indeed.

5:11 AM  

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