On the one hand, ten days of Vipassana meditation is a lot like jail* except there are more rules and your imprisonment is voluntary. On the other hand, what an illuminating, invaluable experience! Consulting the list I made on my last post, I would say that all 5 of the first objectives were achieved.
1. The Saturn handled like a champ. I even managed to pick up a hitchhiker on the way home, and my little sedan handled the sheer weight of all of our heartbreaking life stories with aplomb. More on the hitchhiker later.
2. I shut up and sat still. I remembered how, and this is not nothing, because forgetting happens. You might think the effect is mystical, but it’s not. If anything, it is more ordinary, and the ordinariness makes it special.
3. I was alone. I missed my friends and family and life and books and pen and paper and computer, but how wonderful, to realize how much you love exactly what you already have. Pardon the sentimentality, but so true.
4. A better person? I hope so. It’s not that I learned anything new so much as the things I knew intellectually somehow in doing nothing came to the surface experientially. I learned that I’m far too easy on myself in some areas and far too hard on myself in others, and as alcoholics are so fond of saying, I think I gained some wisdom in recognizing the difference.
5. Discipline? I hope so, and I hope it lasts.
So 5 for 5 on that shit, and other gains as well that I don’t even feel like going into! So then the second list I made were all these things I wanted to manifest, and this list I’m pretty sure was met with exactly opposite results.
1. A shiny new bike
What did I think? Did I think there’d be a brand new Shwinn with a big red bow on it waiting for me in the living room? Things generally don’t materialize out of thin air. Remember when science didn’t exist, and if suddenly there was a book lying on the table the people concluded that the table gave birth to the book? Well, we don’t live in that time anymore, and the driveway didn’t give birth to a bicycle in my absence.
2. A couch to replace our shitty futon
Not only no new couch, but in fact, I came home to discover we’d been evicted. We didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just that we live in our landlords house and our landlord has suddenly decided to move. Impermanence! The good news is I don’t have to move a new couch.
3. Chastity & Continence
The truth is that I had a sort of micro romance with the hitchhiker. In my defense, he was 22, free spirited, and here is the clincher, covered in red freckles. I am not sorry.
4. Make me neater
It’s hard to say.
5. The greatest writer that ever lived?
Again, it’s hard to say, but I did have waiting for me in the mail a rejection letter from “The Michigan Quarterly Review” that probably should have left me feeling despondent but instead made me positively giddy and grateful to be alive. I felt like a real writer. You know, the struggling kind. A handwritten little blurb at the bottom used words like “witty” and “imaginative approach.” (Barf.)
So this Saturday I leave for New York, then a brief stint in Provincetown, MA, and then a week in Detroit. Adventure! Friends: I hope to talk to you from there.
*and yeah, I’ve been to jail, long story**
**it’s actually not that long of a story: booze + drugs + a perceived lowly socioeconomic status due to lack of showering = brief incarceration. I digress and that’s how come the asterisks.