My shelves grow heavy with volumes of words I wish I had written, neatly bound up in books that stare at me, at once bidding me welcome and challenging me to enter. One shelf is set aside for books of pages, blank, on which I have written each day now for three and a half years, words I did write which, on rereading, I often wish I hadn’t. I could write in pencil erase later in the face of regret, but the pen seals failure and, I am sure, helps build character, which I have in excess
She said I should be thankful that I am not a rice farmer. She said that I should be thankful that I am not over seven feet tall, and not less than four feet eight inches, although she concedes that four feet nine would not be cause for celebration. She says I should be thankful I was not dropped on my head as a baby. I am thankful for all of these things, and for her, for she saves me countless hours remembering things for which I probably should be thankful.
Birth, he said, is the first and only real terminal disease. You only realize that, of course, when it is far too late and there is nothing at all you can do about it. Cancer and all manner of diseases merely shift the timeline, but once you’re on the path, there is only one way off, and that is a step few are willing to take. For some, this is a source of terror, for others it is no more than a slow walk around the block, with the promise you’ll eventually arrive back at the place you began, although it is no longer the place you began but one from which you begin, not again but anew. Again. This is what the Buddha said 3000 years ago, more or less. He confirmed that the just the other day, outside the soup kitchen. “Hey,” Buddha said, “even the once or twice enlightened need to eat from time to time. Join me?”
I never expected this, he said. It came from out of nowhere. None of us predicted it. It’s a sort of thing that happens elsewhere, but not here, at least that was our assumption. We certainly never wanted it to come to this. But come it did, and so we accepted it. We learned to like the placidity of its face. We were lost for a while but our lives returned to their normal pace, the rhythms of the day overwhelmed us, and our lives went on. We never bothered to fashion a new year. We were satisfied with perfection twice each day.
He sits on the cushion staring through hooded eyes at the wall in front of him. He expects exactly nothing to happen, expects there to be no sound within his mind, only what happens without, expects that time will cease for him, or will at least cease to matter. He is not disappointed. The bell rings, he arises, and walks back into the world where everything happens, there is only sound, and he stares at his watch knowing time has moved on in ways he can never hope to fully grasp.
What is there in a yawn that has time inexorably slow, flattening notes by some unknown but ever constant fraction of a tone so that each lingers painfully before proceeding? A moment is locked in place, frozen like Schroedinger’s cat before observation.