MEDITATION CLASS THREE
So what do I remember about meditation class numero tres, now that it was two weeks ago and every waking moment of it has flitted from my brain like so many freed moths, never to return? Well, I went to the Sea Dog, how ’bout that? How that for a Zentastic evening? Nothing says “the teachings of Buddha” like overpriced mozzarella sticks. I did not have those, nor do I know whether they’re even offered by the Sea Dog, so that’s more of a lie than a joke. Same diff!
I never go to the Sea Dog because it’s located under a bridge and thus I forget it exists. It’s also kind of expensive, and on top of that it’s one of those places that’s only really good if you go with a bunch of people for some reason. But all the parking spots were occupied downtown, then I took a wrong turn and ended up in the Sea Dog parking lot, so that’s how that went. I order the Hungarian Goulash, because I don’t know what it is and it’s the least appealing sounding item on the menu – a method of entree selection I highly recommend. I assail my gullet with beers while waiting for the tiny pointy-haired tan fellow to bring me my unfamiliar vittles. In the end, guess what Hungarian Goulash is? It’s Hamburger Helper! Nothing more, nothing less! I mean, maybe they might have sprinkled on some fancy-dancy herbs or added a splash of free range yak gravy or somesuch something or other, but that was old-fashioned, third-grade-on-a-Wednesday-night Hamburger Helper that the tiny pointy-haired tan fellow brought to me on that plate! Thankfully I have a soft spot for processed grocery aisle comfort foods such as this, and while I was taken aback, it would be inaccurate to say that I was 100% disappointed. Hamburger Helper, I’ll tell you now, goes very well with cold, good draft beer. The Sea Dog makes very tasty, if distinctly unmanly, oft-fruit-based beers. They taste nice and they make you feel nice. If that makes me less of a man, kindly accept my haphazardly shucked scrotum as dutiful penance for my enjoyment of sweetly flavorful ale. Making up for the mild letdown of the “goulash” was a legitimately delicious warm blueberry crumb cake with drizzled caramel for dessert, which also melded magnificently with the beer. I savored each succulent bite, reveling in the fact that I am an overweight woman in my late 40’s.
Having left a decent tip on the table and an even more generous one in their toilet (a poop), I go out into the freezing station wagon, where I sit and wait for the heat to come on. From there it’s off to my usual chair at the library, where I’m fortunate enough to get the opportunity to read “Wilson” by Daniel Clowes in its entirety. 80 brisk, smart, funny pages of expertly illustrated misanthropy, “Wilson” is a guy in his forties who aspires to a zest for life that time and again proves impossible in the face of so many stupid, boring idiots. There’s not so much a plot as a string of “gags” that usually end with Wilson blurting something appallingly hurtful to a stranger, or cradling his head in pain and disgust. Pure hilarity, in other words. If you like “graphic novels” and hate “people”, you should find a lot to enjoy here. I liked it right off the bat and look forward to reading it a second time.
Inspired by a yummy dessert and a terrific book, I stride to my meditation class with purpose and drive. A very sad little Dunkin’ Donuts cup is bravely propping the door open, and I wedge the cracked remnants of its carcass back between the door and the frame before bounding and then in rather short order trudging up the four flight of stairs, at the top of which I find The Intimidating Chiropractor and Teacher making spiritedly stilted conversation. Teacher asks me what I do for a living, a question I have never enjoyed for a variety of reasons:
A) Who cares?
B) It’s always one of the first things people ask you, implying that your answer is a framework over which their impression of you will be built.
C) It all but ensures that I won’t end up being friends with this person, because I am generally so unenthused about whatever drudgery I’m putting myself through in order to fund utility bills and Hungarian Goulash that the bitter deadness of my reply will discourage them from ever speaking to me again. Seriously, ask me about my penis size or my most traumatic childhood experiences, but don’t ask me about what I “do for a living”, or my opinion on anything happening in the sky or anything happening in a stadium for that matter. Small talk doesn’t break the ice for me. Small talk is the fucking Manitowoc QM-45A.
I manage to tell her what I do without puking or implying that she is a bad person for politely conveying interest in my “livelihood”, but as I feared the conversation shudders to a halt all the same. First impressions: I make bad ones. I suppose I resent the fact that I’m being made to jump through bland hoops in order to establish any sort of relationship. Can’t we just skip right to the whiskey shots and anus jokes?
People start filing in and we get out the pillows/cushions, form the circle and get situated. We do a quick “sit” – ten minutes of meditation sans Teacher’s lulling, intermittently inspirational narration, which typically gets saved for the intense, balls-out meditation that wraps up each class, time permitting. People crack their backs, knuckles, necks. Buttocks are shifted. The Inappropriately Dressed High School Girl wanders in late, clad in a sheer orange blouse and a miniskirt. Not long after her is The Unsettling Psychiatrist, wearing shorts and a look of consternation.
The sit ends and Teacher says things that make it clear that we will be focusing on the concept of generosity in tonight’s class. I’m not one to shower others with gifts and good deeds, and I flatly refuse to share my food, so this is a quality I can always stand to hear more about, but be that as it may I’d rather we get talking about less grounded affairs. I’m running dangerously low on siddhis, that’s all I’m sayin’. But whatever, sharing is nice.
So next we have to pair up with somebody and talk about generosity. I hate this idea. I of course am paired with The Unsettling Psychiatrist. “It’s not a two-minute subject, is it?”, he says. He then launches into an unstoppable diatribe about his child and his patients, how they ask too much of him, how he asks too much of them without realizing that he’s asking anything at all, and can anything really truly be given to anyone without expecting something in return? I realize as he says this that even with nine-month-old Freddy, I feel pangs of hurt and even anger if he doesn’t smile or giggle in response to one of my stupid faces or when I make the stuffed Tigger fall off the toybox and impale his rectum on the Fisher Price Rock-A-Stack. I make mention of this using the few words I manage to get in edgewise, and The Unsettling Psychiatrist nods enthusiastically and is sent off on another tangent that is cut short by the sound of the singing bowl being struck, yet he continues to whisper a mile a minute. I can’t hear any of it. He’s really got a lot going on. What a fascinatingly horrible occupation. How do you not take that home with you? He trails off, gets resituated on his brick and faces forward again, jaw set and brow furrowed.
The difficulty of approaching a conversation as something other than simply enduring what another person has to say until it’s your turn to speak is dwelt upon, and exemplified in the many hyper interruptions and oblivious repetitions that naturally occur throughout the discussion. We are here for ourselves, and is there beauty in that? Does there need to be?
Final meditation time comes quickly, as it always does in these fleeting meetings. At this stage in the game I’ve mostly conquered the physical discomfort obstacles inherent in the practice, and my back, ass, knees, and even hamstrings are now able to withstand prolonged period of focused inactivity, allowing me to zero in on what I’ve come here to try and do. I’ve been – Jesus, my wife just started watching “High School Musical” on instant Netflix. Sorry, I’m…what’s even happening? Why is this…what…I can’t even process this, nor what might have led to this decision. I’m totally lost now. My train of thought is just…because I’m not gonna be able to avoid looking up at the screen every ten seconds. I mean, obviously some inane part of me wants to watch this too. Zac Efron has 27 pounds of hair on his head. Everyone looks like they’re made of ice cream.
OK! So home meditation: I’m okay at it! I’ve skipped days here and there but I’m making an effort to meditate nearly every day, not a difficult task because I very much look forward to it. Everything is imperceptively different in imperceptively different ways following each session. It’s like taking a mild muscle relaxant and then blissfully chipping away at an enormous mountain with a tiny rock hammer. You know there’s progress, but it’s really hard to see, and somehow that’s the fun of it. But in the classroom setting, with Teacher intoning platitudes that threaten pretension but only border it due to the clear good intentions on display, I pretty well dive headlong into my own brain. I get a weird body buzz. I remember a kid I hated that used to ride my bus who used to hit rolls of gun caps with a rock to pass the time. His ears were caked with bright orange wax, as though crayons had been squashed into them, and he was capable of a surprisingly not bad Reagan impression. It occurs to me that I have done pretty well in life for having put far less than 24 hours of actual effort into it, and my mind is briefly blown at this realization. I think of all the cats I have known, and relive how I felt in their respective presences. An itch makes itself known in my love handle, and I have to devote some of my mental energy to attacking it while leaving just enough free to contemplate the character of Ron Swanson on the show “Parks and Recreation”, and what a funny and masterful comic creation he is. I imagine burying my face in Ron Swanson’s clothed stomach and inhaling the essence of his sweater, and how that would probably smell like fresh wood shavings. I think about inhaling the clothed stomach smells of a random string of people, some familiar and some nonexistent, and imagine them reacting in a variety of comic ways. The itch has been vanquished, but another will come. I feel yellow. I’m so close to something.
The bowl is struck, and we all set about trying to snap out of it enough to make our way out of the building without falling all over each other. The Unsettling Psychiatrist stays behind to say a lot of stuff to Teacher. My temples feel like they’re pulsating – this always happens but it’s super strong after a class. It feels like holes opening in my head, and the wind blows through them as I walk back to my car, which is loud when I start it, and which doesn’t want to go up the hill that it needs to go up in order to get me home. But I am patient with it, and I do not call it a shitfucker or a sharting mcfucksucker like the old, misaligned me might. We’ll get there when we get there.
Didn’t want to tonight but did and it was prob 2nd best one yet. Feel pretty genuinely relaxed + was agitated before starting. Started open eyes than gradually closed. Closed may be deeper. Both are interesting. Did not have my usual problem with back + leg pain!
Sick still. Stuffed nose. Let myself slowly tip over + it felt cool. Not very into it tonight though. Work kinda shitty right now, affecting thoughts.
Skipped 2 nites – bad! 2nite sat up against wall – helps a lot but is that cheating? Also the room is now messy + I played a movie game in conjunction w/breathing. Not sure if this all counts but I do feel pretty relaxed.
Meditated in dark with candle – very nice. Zoned out quite a bit. Managed to take note of breathing more than usual. Ignoed itch on neck and it went away. Scratched bad heel itch though. Almost fell asleep – that would be a pitfall of candle. Really liked doing it this way though.
Did a “generosity” meditation. Feel very affected by it. Legs were in extreme pain but was very zoned and it evened out. Both feet apparently fell asleep – had no idea. Having trouble snapping out – am I supposed to snap out + is ultimate goal to always feel this fucked up? The “submerged” feeling again – heavily so. Don’t really want to move.