Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the first time

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Extraordinary how the extraordinary becomes ordinary.

Once upon a time, at a formal Zen center I attended, it occurred to me one day that I could recognize the people entering the long meditation hall even though I was facing the wall and could not see them. The way the feet hit the floor, the way the robes brushed against the legs and perhaps other hints I was unaware of -- all of them convened to tell me, "Oh, here comes Suzy" or "Peter is here tonight." The recognition struck me as pretty kool, pretty extraordinary. It was a small wow, fresh as a daisy. Brand new. A first.

As soon as I had savored that recognition, the freshness began to wear off. Recognizing people without ever seeing them plus a couple of bucks would get me a bus ride. What had been wow became par for the course. What had been fresh became, somehow, stale. What had been brand new became old hat.

And the mind went off in search of new and improved wow's, new brand-new's. Why? I think maybe it is because that sense of freshness was a delight. It had something real in it. It drew the attention and attention was somehow correct. Or perhaps the mind was just proud of itself in some needy way. Whatever the reason, the mind was off and running ... looking for frogs with two heads, or new shoes, or a party to beat all parties, or a situation that would lift the veil of staleness.

The first time is extraordinary and fresh and filled with wonder. The first time was a 'first' and therefore left this heart and mind without handholds or explanations. Things were open to a delighted stupefaction.

The first time is timeless and edgeless ... it's a first, after all.

And yet which time is not the first time?
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