Strange somehow, to notice how in someone's life, a hundred strands of human story can boil down to a single point of eruption ... perhaps the unrolled toothpaste tube becomes "the last straw," or the single unwashed coffee cup on the arm of the couch brings a laser-like focus to previous pleas or resentments. "That's it!" the mind roars. "I've had it!"
In Mississippi, a couple of men got into a gun fight over dog shit:
Once upon a time in New York, a couple of residents at a Zen center I attended were like oil and water. One took his responsibilities seriously -- kept the place neat, washed the floors, cleaned the altars, vacuumed the stairs. The other could only be described as lackadaisical -- sidestepping chores, leaving the work to others, etc. He didn't wear a watch, he explained, "because John Wayne never wore one." And one day, after morning service, the two young men got into a fist fight. Their battle spilled onto the sidewalk outside the zendo ... two guys in Zen robes, beating the hell out of each other as New Yorkers hurried off to work. Both of them appeared that evening for zazen or meditation practice ... each sporting a brand new shiner.JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- An argument between two armed neighbors over a dog and its feces escalated to a shootout in rural Mississippi, sending one neighbor to the hospital with injuries from shotgun pellets and the other neighbor to jail. Complete story.
Things boil down to a single moment -- a time when the pent-up experiences and thoughts and feelings coalesce into a single, blazing now. It's easy thing to see when people/I get cranky, but less easy to get your head around when things are good-better-best. Still, it is the same thing in other raiments ... THIS is it! Pow! Right now! Clear as a bell, whether sweet as bliss or sour as a lemon.
There is something important about such moments, I think. THIS is it, utterly clear and clean and without doubt. A roar of anger, a melting swoon. No more diplomacy, no more explanation, no more meaning. THIS is it ... followed inevitably by a time when that THIS is no longer THIS. And when it is no longer this, there is a longing to return to that moment of pure, unvarnished being. But all that is left is hope and belief and yearning and scrambling to reassert that gorgeous clarity. It never works, but it isn't for lack of trying.
The memories cling, beliefs and biases spring up in an effort to categorize and capture the past ... but it doesn't work. The past is past no matter how important it is. And the past clarity just becomes a way of collecting and collating the stuff that will finally POP again in a new laser-like singularity of experience ... some new coffee cup or tooth paste tube or dog shitting on the lawn or warming kiss.
Clear times are a delight. Wondrous. Exceptional. Beyond beautiful. Magnetic to the point of tears. And yet I think that the more extraordinary they are, the more wondrous, the more delicious, the more pure -- well, that just points out how confused things have become up until that point. Sometimes I think spiritual endeavor is just a matter of getting our heads screwed on straight. The laser focus of this moment is precisely the same all the time, only, of course, there is no one focusing...that's why it's so delightfully clear. Practice is just a matter of nudging ourselves towards what we could not escape if we tried ... POW! Right now! Somehow we have to get over the notion that this is extraordinary or elevated. In point of fact, it is just ordinary ... and we have busied ourselves elsewhere. Ordinary after ordinary after ordinary ... and really quite exceptional... and yet to call it exceptional is to miss the boat and set off on some improved adventure into stuff that blows our socks off ... again.
Beyond the palaver of good and evil ... how about that coffee cup? How about that dog shit? How about that kiss? How about ... well, how about relaxation and enjoyment?