Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Somewhere or other, Hinduism, a religion old enough and adult enough to both tell honest tales and laugh at itself, retails a story about two monks walking barefoot down a dirt road. One steps on a sharp rock. "Oh how I wish the road might be covered in soft leather," he complains as he tends to his wound. "Wouldn't it be better to cover our feet in soft leather?" the other replies in my inexact memory.

Is there any traveler who doesn't wish to move through life without suffering the wounds that life invariably serves up? And yet how common it is to wish the road were more kindly and to expend all sorts of effort trying to improve it. "Ain't it awful?!" echoes from the canyon walls. Sometimes this life seems to be nothing but an endless fixer-up-er.

Sure enough, things can be pretty damned awful. Quick! Let's fix it! Let's find meaning and explanation and relief and choirs of angels. Scowl and improve, scowl and improve. Yes -- life can be pretty damned awful.

And likewise, life can be marvelous in its joy and kindness. Never mind the smarmy chit-chat ... really, the wonders can blow your socks off. And this wonder is sometimes attributed to the lovely leather road that has recently been laid out.

But the tale remains. Without reflection and investigation of these two feet I am already standing on, doesn't life spiral into an endless cycle of ouch-and-yum, a vortex of virtue and improvement that never really paves an unwounded way?

"But we've got to try," those with good hearts explain. Try to smooth the way. Try to make nice what so often is nasty. Try, try, try ....

Yes indeed, go ahead and try. But is that a reason not to screw this head on right? Is that a reason not to reflect and consider and stop complaining about the road when a pair of decent shoes are a distinct and attainable possibility?

If I am unwilling to reflect, I think my socially-acceptable policy of complaining and explaining becomes moot. And it's not as if I could ask anyone else to do it for me.


  1. Oh how i wish the sidewalks could be softer and not hot in summer or icy in winter... Oh how i wish aging and death weren't inevitable.

  2. Made me get up and change my shoes to a more comfortable pair.