I loathe Sunday night, especially the space between time spent working on something and the time I finally give in and go to bed. The way it coolly puts an end to my ability to decide how to use my energy. The way it shows me again and again how much time I’ve wasted. The way it shines the light on the unfulfilled and further clarifies the impending start of the weekly routine.
Yeah, yeah, that’s the way it goes. Easy to forget sometimes that a lot could happen in the next moment. Let the end of this sentence be the end of my dwelling on these feelings of uneasiness.
I’m pretty sure the pattern on this bowl holds the secret to the universe. If not, it’s at least a very pretty bowl. Perhaps if I eat from it more often the wisdom tree will sprout from the fertile soil of my mind-ground. If not, well, then maybe not.
Here’s an old Zen story:
The Moon Cannot be Stolen
Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing in it to steal.
Ryokan returned and caught him. “You may have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.”
The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.
Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.”
– – –
I’m not there yet. If I met the thief tonight, I’d probably first give him a fierce punch in the fucking mouth. Then, maybe I’d offer him some money. After all, I’m part Sicillian.
Anger is dangerous, I should be careful.
It’s not Tuesday, but I’m in the mood for strong drink and reckless typing nonetheless. Sometimes you’ve just got to rip your shirt off, bark at the clouds (they’re always moving!), and see who’s left to bark with you.
I get tired tired tired of constantly struggling with my own lackadaisical and haphazard nature that grows the incredible piles of steaming bullshit that eventually come toppling down on my head. Sure, in some areas I’m a model of persistence and devotion. This has been the summer of running. I ran fifteen on Friday, the farthest ever. Tomorrow I’m going to run up a small mountain. I’m going to get that marathon! I’ll have it for breakfast AND lunch on 9/15 since it’ll take me about that long to get through it all.
Most everything else has slipped a bit. Hardly any writing, barely any reading, doing just enough to get by on the freelance projects. I still have the 9-5. My wife still loves me, I think. Of course, she’s in the woods of Denali right now so I’ll have to verify upon her return.
So I’m fed up tonight. I took care of paperwork and other clutter, then cleaned and polished the desk. I turned up the music until it hurt. Now it’s time for strong drink. Alright, I’m now through lamenting life’s minuscule frustrations. Let’s put things in perspective.
I miss my friends and hope they are well. I had a dream about an old friend last night who was killed in Iraq. He was a running buddy in high school and beyond that was one of the most absurdly comical guys I’ve ever known. In the dream he, some other friends and I were swimming in a giant swimming pool. At first I was concerned about the enormity and depth of the pool, it was more like a small, murky lake. The pool was also convexed to a laws of physics defying degree. Travis’s presence somehow put me at ease. He was jumping off giant diving boards and screwing around as I’d expect from him. After bobbing atop the surface for awhile I realized I could hold my breath indefinitely. It was almost as good as flying. Everything was at peace under water and I could see clearly, unlike when I was floating with my head above the surface.
I watched the entire Band of Brothers series over the last five days. Those guys went through some shit. When the actual soldiers, now quite advanced in age, reflected on the deep bonds forged by their mutual suffering, I was reminded of something that is not really comparable. After the long Zen retreats in Nebraska, I felt closer to many of the people I sat with there than people I’ve known my whole life. There’s something about shared suffering in close proximity that truly reveals the essence of a person. Sure, trees weren’t exploding around us from German artillery and none of us were at risk of injury any worse than muscle fatigue and perhaps minor joint strain. Still, we were all dealing with our own personal demons and doing our best to make it through the battlefields of our minds. Once again, not a fair comparison, but hearing the survivors speak of their comrades from the 101st Airborne Division reminded me of my sangha members in Nebraska. I hope they, too, are well.
Life is marked by dissatisfaction, it’s always something isn’t it? Yep, always something. All in all, I still say “pretty good.” Some days I even say “pretty damn good!”
Here I am, filled to the brim.
I turned 30 the other day. I’ve been around since 1977. That was the year the original Star Wars was released. I watched that first one tonight, A New Hope. Like Darth Vader in the end, I’ve been spinning around outer space and guess what, I’m still here. My space helmet is strong. And not unlike Chewy, hair is growing on my back, more and more each year.
The older I get, the more I appreciate scotch and jazz. A friend brought me a bottle for my birthday and I just opened it up. If there could be a theme song for tonight’s ‘Scotch Drinking Gregory’, it might be “Killer Joe” by Art Farmer and the Benny Golson Jazztet. When I was younger I wanted to play the saxophone, but I was big into the martial arts and sports at the time. My mom said I couldn’t. To this day, I still think I would’ve been a high quality jazz musician. Instead, all I do musically is toot on the didgeridoo during the occasional get-together at home.
Oh well, I can’t do it all.
I do appreciate my current alignment— jazz blaring and cool air slipping through a north-facing window. I wonder what will happen next, where I’ll be in a few months, in ten years, what will happen to my shoes when I die. Even after a few swallows of the scotch, I can’t see far enough ahead despite this phenomenal view.
I’ve been feeling quite good lately, good enough to still think running the Equinox Marathon in September isn’t a bad idea. The training has gone well so far and my body has mostly held up. It’s about to get serious over the next couple months. I’ll need some inside downtime when I’m not out running, so maybe the writing will be coming back into my life again.
We’ll see how it goes.