Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Meditation 9


If you put boulders on sand, gravel on boulders, the coastal road on gravel, the road will eventually collapse, not because ocean pushes boulders, but because sand’s an unstable foundation. Gravity does the rest. If you build a tunnel through the mountain, expect landslides and fallen trees. If you build desert townhouses in a rain forest, expect the walls to be damp, the ceilings to peel away. “It’s always been like that and always will be,” says the white man with the one-eyed dog, as my dog sniffs his. His voice dissonant: “those rag heads hate us because we are.” Another neighbor suggests asking for precision: does he mean Indians or Sikhs? Does he mean the people we just attacked? Does he use a towel when he dries his head after a shower? Specificity’s important when you’re from the South, he says. I’m reminded a high school teacher loved the Plath line, “the horses are,” which ended with the verb for being without movement, drama of existence not action. My cat sits beside me, considers leaping up on the bed, leaps; outside rooster call and mower construct an awkward chord. In Volcano, a philosophy prof's organizing a conference on anarchy at the military camp. It all depends on how you parse the verb or noun, because sometimes they mean twice. Jon notes that “mean” also means “mean.” Anarchy as chaos or as alternate order. It must be exhausting to be so angry, I want to say to my neighbor down the street. What father or what war made you so angry? Was it a boy scout leader who groomed you away from the crowd, had his way with you for years, while shame crashed down like a curtain before a bombing raid? And why did you put a fluffy white collar around the tiny dog you walk each day, faithfully. He was a bad man, but so are you. My twitter feed warns me that photographs of dead animals in Australia are graphic, and the warning alone triggers something in me, like avoidance, or the desire to write. I write because it grounds me, a colleague says, when everything else is chaos. It’s that search for meaning, road on gravel on boulder, and gravity takes it down as soon as the typing ends. Some form of entertainment, this meaning. Absorptive as a video game, and just as interactive, but the hours away from the monitor are blank, at best. I meditated to the sound of a video game and a tv show; our attention is there to be grabbed. Sexual predators come to court in wheelchairs or with walkers. One reached out for the railing as an aide pulled his walker away; he stuttered up the stairs. The dharma talk was on judgment, how corrosive it is. Negative thinking takes up much of our time, a study determined. I could ask the man with the one-eyed dog to think happier thoughts. “It’s all in your imagination,” I would say; “you think too much.” But the orthodontics of emotion take more time than that. I signaled my virtue, turning on my heel, telling him he was a racist. Short cut; stale, mate.

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