Sunday, March 18, 2012

the end of names?

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Does everyone long to be someone or something else? Even if everything is more or less OK, is there still some nudge or nag of incompleteness, of I-wish-I-had or wish-I-could? I sort of imagine that it's part of the human tapestry, but where once I might have suggested the whole notion was subtly or profoundly wrong-headed -- and gone off onto some Buddhist schtick, perhaps -- now I haven't got the energy to be 'right' or 'better.'

Yesterday a woman called -- her name was "Yasmin" or "Jasmine," I didn't quite get it -- and asked to come to the zendo. She was in a 'confused' time and had had some contact with therapy and yoga and breathing meditations and thought she would look a little further into Zen. OK. We set a time this morning (no more "9 a.m. sharp" stuff) and I cleaned the zendo and I guess she'll show up, unless, of course, she doesn't. What can I tell her that she doesn't know? Not much, I'm afraid ... but we can wag our tails and meet each other like a couple of molecules in deep space.

Yesterday, as well, after the Saturday peace vigil was over, I ran into Carl, a trim, neatly-dressed seventy-something guy I had met during several meetings of something called the "Wisdom Project" ... a conversation group with an important and somewhat embarrassing name. As a teenager, Carl received a full-boat scholarship to some college, but instead of going, his stepfather (who had four other daughters to support) got him an internship as a bricklayer. The stepfather took his earnings and put them towards the household. Carl was a bricklayer for many many years. A good living, but not expressing his full potential. His salvation -- that which took the place of the education he might have gotten -- came with music. Fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass. He knows how to play the instruments and he knows how to fix and even make them. Music -- the magic of the stars in my eyes -- probably saved his soaring ass ... or anyway that's the story I confect.

We talked amiably on the street and he half hoped I would come back to join "The Wisdom Project." And who knows, maybe I'll try it again ... a conversation with four or five people, each with a story to tell, an opinion to express. I like stories. I like the deep-space dance of molecules. But I get reluctant and testy with monikers like "The Wisdom Project" or "the zendo." That's probably just my version of being someone or something else.

Maybe the good thing about aging is that you get too tired to bite down on succulent bits of ardor. It's hard enough to get out of bed and re-greet whatever aches and pains insist. Like some old Chevy parked outside during the winter cold, the oil has settled and grown viscous overnight. The slick lubrications of being hot to trot take time an patience to coax back to life. The engine growls and strains. Eventually, the car kicks into life, but let's face it, it's an old car and this is not summer. Caring and hoping to achieve some other status takes energy and imagination and ... well, what's the matter with this? This is it, isn't it? And if this is it, then this is it. Lubrications of "wisdom" and "zendo" and "justice" and "freedom" ... well, that's for younger, newer, more 'concerned' vehicles.

I like and admire Carl for his music and his grit ... what a magical blessing! And Carl may like me because I once worked for a newspaper and am less prone to "wisdom," a thing he may admire, but also suspects is worthy of suspicion -- an 'extra' in an already wise world.

The end of names. Maybe that's a way to say it. Like an old pair of underpants, the elastic around the waist and legs gives out after repeated washing. Naming things is to make them something else ... and in so doing makes me someone else. How can something be something else when it is already what it is ... something else?

It's a curious matter.
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