Monday, April 12, 2010

dig, plant, tend

When I was in the second or third grade, I would come home from school and listen to the soap operas on the radio. The romance ones were kind of sticky, but towards suppertime and thereafter, the good ones -- the action-adventure ones like The Shadow and The Lone Ranger would appear.

But during the afternoon, when I was caught between the plus side of being told a story and the minus side of all that "love stuff," there would be advertising, just as there is today. I didn't really understand advertising and its function at the time, but I did understand that these ads were interrupting MY story.

So one day, I devised a devilish scheme: I would send off a quarter to the particularly irritating flower-seed-ad folks and, as I conceived it, they would stop advertising as soon as they had my money. A quarter was a whole week's allowance, so I must have been as serious as I was illogical.

Sure enough, the seeds came. And sure enough, they didn't stop advertising.

I remembered all this as I was out planting some flowers just now -- feeling the satisfying nourishment of the earth, pulling out last-year's left-overs, digging small holes or trenches for bulbs or seeds. In second or third grade, I knew seeds were supposed to be planted, but I was so damned mad that they didn't stop advertising on the radio that I threw them away ... There! That'd show them!

Only of course, it was my quarter and they had scammed me as planned, and I was frustrated and cranky and not in the mood to investigate my own complicity in the deal. I wanted them to stop the ads and my plan had failed and it was THEIR fault.

I never did send away another quarter for something I didn't want. But I sent out plenty of quarters for what I did. The things would arrive and be more or less pleasing, but by that time I realized my own role in the acquisition arena.

But even in advancing age it wasn't always easy to remember my role. I sent away for Buddhism, so to speak and had enough residual childishness to imagine from time to time that something -- some difficulty or trip stone -- was THEIR fault. Or -- same stuff, different day -- that what was good and wholesome and sometimes blissful was also, somehow, THEIR doing.

It doesn't work, sending out quarters. The advertisers keep on advertising -- flowers, Buddhas, sweet scents, peaceful lives -- so the only thing left to do is to turn off the damned radio or TV or Internet ... get outside, dig a hole, smell the earth. Who needs Buddha and all his advertisers? Who needs to pay for what is already in hand? How many times does anyone have to believe the advertising before they realize it's just advertising?

Stop scheming to do what cannot be done.

Dig, plant, tend ... and watch the magic.


  1. Your blog is nothing but advertising of your own thoughts and ideas... isn't it?
    Stop it and just do what you preach...

  2. Hi,

    Gautama Buddha left the comfort of his parental palace to live in poverty. This is the basic fact of Buddhism that is hardly talked about nor advertised since nobody can make any money out of it.


  3. Some actually do exactly this, but since they do not advertise you do not hear about them.