A few weeks ago I was on a Buddhist binge….
A scholarly conference at the University up the street
And an author talk at the campus book store.
At the conference the scholars….all deeply immersed in Buddhist studies….
Seemed only to be talking to each other……
in a way that (I thought) might send Siddhartha racing from the Bodhi tree…..
On the other hand, the ethereal author (world renowned translater of Buddhist texts)….was virtually mute…..reluctant to articulate a sentence which might undermine the “wordlessness” of the Buddha’s insights….
I don’t know….but it seems that the “Middle Way” would suggest
Coming off each mountaintop? (“not this, not this” … n’est pas?)
# # #
Though I so wish it were…
A friend I hold dearly wrote today…
“Ignorance is so difficult to conquer. Therefore we need to concentrate on massive education. Or should I say, education of the masses.”
I’ve been pondering that all day….
Thinking of my 40 plus years in the classroom….
Teaching adolescents to senior citizens….
Convincing myself that “education” is as important as any other survival requirement…..
But, then, I remember my mother….
Saying to me when I was 10 or 11…
“Carolyn, someday you’ll go to college and then you’ll hate us!”
Oh how I protested then…and in all the years since….
I didn’t understand then how afraid she was. How she had been made to feel inadequate by teachers and “refined” friends and even her husband’s family….she thought she just wasn’t “good enough”.
Maybe I’m beginning to understand.
I have testimonies that I was a kind, empathetic, teacher….
(Johnnie’s mother said I could share the title of mother with her….a woman of color from “the islands”….because I “saved” her son and got him launched on a career that eventually led to graduate work; I was honored)
Few of us who love learning want to “hate” those who didn’t go to college…
We only want to share what we have learned….
Yet, I guess I have to learn that I didn’t want to learn
What my mother had been taught. (I hope it’s not too late.)
It felt like a post-operative waiting room.
Or a lobby in an assisted- living facility.
The riders–the usual mix of age, gender, color, occupation–
Were eerily unfocused, humorless, disconnected …even from their phones.
More in limbo than Dante’s pilgrims, it seemed.
The atmosphere, reminiscent of 9/11 (without the tenderness),
Was exactly right. No one smiled or made small talk or looked busy.
Rather, they appeared as in a freeze frame of a Fellini film,
Caught in a moment of raw and absolute confusion.
On Tuesday, over butternut squash
soup and a half of a steak tartine
(the special at Café 37),
My high school friend lamented her recent bout with shingles.
“It could have been worse! At least I had the shot!” she whined.
I thought of all the shots she had had….
the teenage pregnancy, the philandering husband,
he husband’s dialysis, the divorce,
the second marriage, the divorce. Lots of shots.
And my own inoculations….different, but definitely as difficult.
Certainly they should have inoculated me!
Certainly after all those traumas and “learning experiences”
I should have been well- inoculated against the pain and itch of
But sometimes, I guess, the shots just don’t do it!
The laundry needs “tending to”
The house “picked up”
The plants “nourished”
The papers “taken care of “ ….
The stove “minded”….
How often does the habit of “mothering” preclude mindfulness?
Yesterday my little boy and I had lunch at a restored railroad station in an oh-so-pretty little town in New Jersey….
Picturesque it was.
Cocooned in the gingerbread fantasy…. merlot-colored walls warmed our hearts and curlicued windows threw the October sun in our faces…..
We laughed and interrupted each other as we always have….never at a loss for words or stories or GREAT INSIGHTS.
Maybe a hundred years ago lovers sat here, hating to part…or waited impatiently for the next train to arrive.
They couldn’t have been happier or sadder than me with my
Nearly thirty- three year old boy who (with his own lover by his side) is journeying to stations I will never visit.
(But, I know the hot chocolate will taste as good!)
We used to inhabit over-lit offices and classrooms
Chafing at the numbing lack of freedom…
Now, free as a bird, we
Propel ourselves out into the grey rain,
Obdurate against the leaden sky…
Struggling to find the light in this hard-won “freedom”
We didn’t need the MRI to tell us…..
The electric pain shouted down our resistance.
Yet, we wondered ….
Would those thera-bands and hot packs….
And the oh-so-painfully ecstatic manipulations of the clairvoyant PT
The soreness of our hearts
The stiffness of our souls?
It took six decades
To design the vehicle that we took for granted…
And now, after all that,
Is it just a matter of herniated and bulging discs?
I want my money back!
I need philosophical…not physical therapy!!
I don’t think of myself as a poet.
But, sometimes a casual observation, or a mood, or a particular event wakes me from the
of the day and I feel a bit more aware of the life I am living.
I am finding that I look forward to the moment that will be the “keeper”.
The moment I can later capture in a few words.
Scribbling, rambling, sketching with words, I explore the thought or the image— much as my friends who are artists do with “quick sketches” during the course of a walk.
I would love to have you join me in writing a poem a day…or a week.…
Life lived consciously feels so much livelier! Please do share your “keepers”!