Thursday, September 1, 2011


Yesterday, as I walked my body around the block for some exercise, I ran into my neighbor Mike, who was sitting on his porch with a relative whose name I've forgotten. Seeing a small pickup in the driveway with a load of construction detritus in the back, I asked Mike what he was up to. It turned out he was gutting the bathroom and the three of us fell comfortably into conversational adventures and misadventures in home construction work. It was kind of a guy thing.

Finally, Mike took me inside to show me the progress in a room that was perhaps eight or nine feet square. The studs were exposed, old insulation waited to be removed and there were holes in the floor where bathroom items and their connections had once stood. Bit by bit, the two men were creating a space in which to make something sparkling and new. A renovation. A blank canvas.

It was a time for envisioning what might be done and how it might be done and I entered into the speculative conversation with enjoyment. But at one point, I had to pull myself up short and concede out loud, "Of course anyone who is not doing the work has got a lot of sage advice about what should be done." I love imagining what to do with spaces and dreams, but laying that love off on others really can be blind to the work others are doing as best they may. I love imagining and I hate it when I cross over into the realm of the one with all the best answers.

The other day, I got a call from a local college that was checking to see if Black Moon Zendo was in fact a local resource that students might check out if they wanted. Name, address, phone -- just the ordinary information. I found myself somehow uncomfortable, though I answered the questions. Finally I said I hoped the information would not be used for some sort of bright-light promotion. The woman on the other end assured me it was solely for the use of students in their religious studies. Since I generally like students and their investigations, I was mollified. Generally, students just want to skim the surface, write term papers and the like. Their hearts and lives are not especially invested ... it's just a term paper. I am content being the source for the superficial.

But the attachment I may feel when things go deeper, when someone has consented to put heart and soul into things ... well, that attachment is an exercise because although I really might like to help, still the notion of  'helping' is skewed ... so I have to work on it. Generally, I can take solace in the fact that words and encouragements come and go so it's basically OK just to speak my mind and let it go. Maybe the result will be good, maybe bad, maybe neither or either or both ... but there is no sense fretting about the downside or patting myself on the back for the upside. Anything can be turned into anything else. The good-bad-indifferent factor is irrelevant ... until of course I imagine I could 'help.'

I'm not doing the heavy lifting. I'm not sweating and swearing in pursuit of a new bathroom. I'm not confused or elated by the spirals of spiritual effort. I'm just shooting my mouth off as circumstances seem to dictate.

Still, I have to keep an eye on it ... helping, improving, perfecting, succeeding, failing... and imagining I have some role in it all.

Isn't a pleasant conversation enough?

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