Yesterday, I went to a full day zen meditation retreat for beginners. It was fascinating, and I will write more about it later in the week. But today (this was written on Monday), I want to get this specific thought out of my head, putting it into words because I completely forget what I wanted to say, or even more likely, embarrassed to bring it up tomorrow. I enjoy this type of “fleeting moment” writing, although it can also be scary, because people tend to see your writing as written in stone, as if each post was a manifesto, and not a mere daydream. If I decide tomorrow morning to say that my life dream is to run with the bulls in Pamplona, please don’t run out and buy me airplane tickets just yet. By the afternoon, I might have done a little research, or watched the utter chaos on a YouTube video, and completely changed my mind, and decided to go to Hawaii instead. So, be aware that I spent most of the Sunday staring at a blank wall in silence, so this post reflects that unique (or crazed) state of being. Today I might be all zen. That doesn’t mean that tomorrow, I won’t go back to writing sex jokes.
Over the last few years, I have introduced you to my mind. To my heart. You have even met my talkative, and overly friendly, penis, who has written some blog posts himself. But I usually keep my soul locked in the basement, like a crazy, dangerous, uncle. I pride myself on my rationality and adherence to a scientific approach, and dismiss anything that smacks of the supernatural. Even when I write about Jewish issues, it tends to be about cultural issues, more bagels than morning prayer.
Every once in a blue moon, I hear my uncle screaming in the basement, and I try to listen to his gibberish. As much as I try to ignore the rantings of a madman, I do hear him, and his voice intrigues me. How many wondrous stories have I read in the past where it is the madman who is the one with the most knowledge and awareness?
I was IM-ing with Schmutzie this morning, telling her about the retreat. She said she was surprised that I would go to a zen meditation retreat.
“It doesn’t sound like you AT ALL. What made you go to it?”
I was taken aback because I had no coherent story. I didn’t have a real reason for going other than curiosity. It just fell into my lap. Sure, I read Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha” when I was in ninth grade, but I have never had an overwhelming desire to meditate. I don’t read books about zen meditation. I’m not even that attracted to Buddhism as a way of life. I find the concept of karma a little creepy. My “path,” if there is one, that brought me there was completely random, rather mundane, and involves the most un-zen-like of all modern tools — Twitter.
One evening, several weeks ago, Sophia and I were arguing about the dishes. I’m not embarrassed to mention this, because I assume that this is a common in every modern married household throughout the world. Sadly, in my home, I am the one usually stuck with the chore.
After cleaning the kitchen, I took my angst out on whoever happened to be sitting on Twitter at 8PM on a Tuesday.
“I hate doing the dishes,” I wrote to whoever was there. “Is there anyone who really LIKES doing the dishes?”
Another blogger chimed in and replied that I should read a book by Karen Maezen Miller. She wrote a book about viewing the mundane household chores from a Buddhist perspective. I didn’t think much of this, but I noticed that Karen Maezen Miller also happened to be on Twitter. So, I followed her, mostly as a lark. I like talking with a weird assortment of folk.
I followed her and soon I was “chatting” with her on Twitter, mostly making fun of her mellow spirit, as if I was playfully interacting with The Redneck Mommy rather than a zen priest. And I was surprised that she always had a funny response. Zen priests are not supposed to be clever, or even “get” movie references to the Karate Kid!
Curious who this woman was, I looked at her website, and discovered that she teaches at an LA zen center, and — just that weekend — was offering an infrequently-held beginner’s retreat! So, I signed up.
Let me make it clear. This is not a plug for her book, which I have not read. This is an actual story of how an argument with Sophia over the dishes brought me to a place where I was facing the wall all day!
Without getting all LOST on you, I think you see where this is going. The mystery.
At the end of the retreat, Karen Maezen Miller thanked the students, and said some “Mister Miyagi” type statements that you would expect from a zen priest. She said that she learned as much from us and we did from her.
What made my ears perk up was this — our meeting was not as random as it seemed. We were brought together.
It was fairly odd that I was sitting there. A random tweet. A random comment. A random encounter. A random geographical commonality.
I wanted to fight what was bubbling in my head with every fiber of my being. It seems so wrong for so many reasons. Is it possible that everyone we encounter is part of a learning experience that is presented to us on purpose? I’ve written about THE SECRET before, and HOW MUCH I HATE WHAT IT REPRESENTS. How do you explain all the bad shit that happens to people? Karma? I hate that crap. I even have a broken friendship over that stupid book.
But why we meet certain people and not others? Of the millions of people who use the internet, why do I interact with YOU? Is it all just random, or do we really get what we need, even if we don’t realize it?
OK, sorry. I will try to be normal again tomorrow.