Thursday, August 15, 2019

Living Koan

This fellow... I met him in a random encounter I don't know how many years ago, and I've seen seen him again in random encounters I don't know how many times since, here, there, and everywhere, all around town.

Tonight he rolled up on his bicycle, dropped his kickstand, and took a seat at the table with my son and me. He's somehow past the need to ask if he's intruding.

In fact, and by his own assertion, he's wired a little bit differently than the rest of us. Now in his thirties, his mom cared for him until her death earlier this year. He is "functional" in that he holds a job and can get out and about alone, but he is undoubtedly a bit touched.

Folks like this I think of as "messengers" of sorts: they operate just enough within the envelope of normal conversation to slip into your own flow without "turbulence," but inevitably something is going to happen that completely disrupts that flow or just splits your thought patterns enough to cause you to tilt your head and squint a little, leaving you wondering what this conversation is really all about.

That effect -- the mental "hiccup" -- is particularly interesting if you can get past the annoyance of something not making sense and you can catch yourself tying to fill in the blanks. These "messenger moments" are times when, out of the blue, I see something beneath my own surface appear before me -- a message for me from within me appears. Sometimes, it's an eerie realization that my thoughts and speech are not directed at the person sitting in front of me; rather, I'm reliving an older conversation with someone else, or maybe I'm giving advice to a version of myself, or maybe I'm realizing that --given new information and experience -- an old conversation was a mistake. Sometimes it's enough to see that I am projecting myself into the encounter and not really hearing the person in front of me...

But then again, maybe that fellow in front of me is doing the same, and we're not hearing each other at all. We're odd reflections of ourselves that catch our eye, triggering sequences and patterns as we relive them all again.

Soon, by the way, maybe it's not just people... after all, what can have our attention that is not entwined with our experience, thoughts and memories, hopes, our senses, habits, and so forth? If the world suddenly blurred into a van Gogh painting swirling about, wouldn't we still find ourselves in it? What would be your teacher, moment to moment, if you didn't believe it had to look like a person with robes, a stick, and a certificate? The teacher is everywhere if a teacher is what you believe you need; with any luck, it will be in a form you can recognize and accept.

And maybe once we're done experiencing that and we understand it, it's gone.

Another dead end? Maybe not. How can everything change if you can perceive it differently? What if the answers to any of your questions could be found all around you?

Still have questions? Have none? Back to practice.

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