Tranquility, With Fur

Cooper, sleeping


It is difficult to meditate
when a nervous black kitty
uses this rare opportunity
of your tranquility
to leap onto your lap
press her wet nose against your hands
curled into their mudra
and pushes her bony feet
into your thighs
in a restless attempt
to get comfortable

But once she settles down
into a pile of shadow colored fur
and whiskers
with an uncomplicated contentment
rarely found
in the frantic frenzy of human thought
outside of the shade of the Bodhi tree

It is easy to know
that this moment is flawless
and it is easy to feel
with the resonant
infinite echo of a purr
that for no reason at all
with no possibility of judgement
that you are loved


Caffeinated Mindfulness

Mocha !

I take a sip of coffee, dark roasted into anthracite of Arabica, swirled with the luxurious tropical tang of coconut cream. It rushes into my bloodstream, into my senses. I can’t tell the difference between the chemicals blocking adenosine between my neurons, or the psychosomatic reaction of my hot wet love affair with the aroma, with the taste, with the feel of it on my tongue.

My third eye snaps open. It was asleep. It’s usually asleep. But it’s forced open by the thunderclap of caffeination outside its window, blasting through sleep paralysis, it jolts up in bed and stands at attention. I close my other two eyes. I take my first breath. I begin my meditation.

I take my second breath. They are the long, slow, deliberate breaths of the practice. The same ones that I take when I am calm. What do I look like, to the bodhisattva ghosts that haunt the space around me? Do I look at ease? Do I look rested, because I breathe normally, and because I am not moving? Can they see the thousands upon thousands of lightning bugs that rest upon my skin, waiting to burst into action and light up the night?

I am not rested. I am not calm. There is more to peace than stillness. If nothingness is the true state of perfection, then perfection is flawed. I am a bundle of bundles of charged wires of a hundred different polarities that only exist in the dreams of electrons. Instead of a place without thought, drifting like leaves on a stream, the inside of my skull hosts so many thoughts, so many sensations, in such a reckless state of effortless agitation they are indistinguishable. They are white noise. My mind is a serene cacophony of beautiful tension.

I realize there is no such thing as silence. There is only deafness. In the quietest room in existence, there is still the background radiation of the infant universe. The scream of it’s birth. Not a scream of agony, but an agony of triumph. An impossibly massive explosion in an impossibly small instant, bursting outward from a single point of infinite inertness to a furiously rushing sea of endless potential. The loudest shouts that could ever be, so distant when they reach us that they have become a caressing whisper. If we cannot hear them, it’s because we lack calibration. Because our ears are too small.

It swirls around me, within me, throughout me. These thoughts and this noise are me, and they are not me. They are larger and vastly more important, and smaller than the Planck scale. Less relevant than a single crumb of food that cannot feed a mouse so small it suffers wave interference when it tries to pass through two slits in a scientist’s lab.

It is exhilarating. It is exhausting. It lasts forever, but when it ends, as all things end, it has written a poem in prose in my head. A distant reflection in arbitrary symbolic representation of the chaotic, tranquil, nasty, perfect glory of the experience of trying to meditate after my third cup of coffee. But I will share it anyway.

Rain Through the Window


It is rainy and gray outside.

My friend wrote me an email and told me that he still feels some of the magic from rainy days that he felt in his childhood.

seeing the exact color of the grey outside through the window and having that color seep in through the house, and hearing the patter of the raindrops on the roof and the skylights

I envy that. He is capable of doing that with many things. Just seeing them as they are. He can experience what happens in front of him and nothing more. Mindfulness, you might call it.

I’m not very good at mindfulness. Or, I don’t know. Sometimes I am. I can lose myself in books and movies. I can lose myself in a bite of delicious food. I am capable of pure joy, although I don’t experience it as often as I used to.¬†How can I? The older I get, the more I understand consequences.

In many ways consequences are the enemy of joy. Small children experience pure joy in part because what happens to them means nothing more than it means. They are all texture and no context. They have no caveats.

I’ve walked through the rain too many times. Waited at a bus stop without a shelter while my jeans soaked through and I knew I was going to have to work for hours with soaked jeans that would never really dry until I got home. Just looking at the rain gives me some of that, even though the color is beautiful.

It’s beautiful in this room right now, as the soft light through the window and the soft light of my monitor mingle into a white-grayness, washing over my fingers as I type. But there’s more than just that when I look out the window. There’s also wet jeans.

My friend is not incapable of understanding consequences. Far from it. I think he’s a more consequence-oriented thinker than most people about a great many things. But in some ways he’s like a child. In a good way.

Sometimes I try to practice mindfulness. But it’s hard when thoughts of consequences trigger your anxiety. And it’s hard when you recognize the importance of consequences. Children experience pure joy, but they make terrible accountants.

I don’t think there’s a perfect balance. How can there be? It’s an imperfect universe, and the human brain is the messiest thing we have ever discovered. I know I can’t stop thinking about consequences. And I can’t live without pure, unadulterated, consequence-free joy.

My mind tells me that if can’t achieve balance, then why bother. But that is trap. The quest for perfection is poison to mindfulness. You have to leave the warmth of the fire eventually and trek out into the storm. That’s where the future lies. But you can’t live in the storm.

So for now, I will just sit by the fire, look out the window, and enjoy the rain.