“The definition of insanity is ignoring the present moment for one’s own thoughts. We’re all insane sometimes, therefore. The trick—therefore—is to practice resting in the present moment, coming back again and again to our fundamentally “aok” human nature. Again and again and again and again.”
~ Dr. Willard Evans
Things had been rough between them, so he took responsible and drastic action: he scheduled a $44 dollar haircut, not including tip.
He sat in the hipster yuppie barbershop, drinking the complementary cheap bourbon, shooting the sh*t with his hairdresser, a lovely young lady named…and she pretended to give a care about his life, asking where he’d been traveling, and how his thing with Voldemort had been going (that was what he’d taken to calling his gf, Yoga Girl, lately).
“Things are good. I mean…frankly, the sex is great, but we don’t really…get along. So I guess they’re not great. She’s mad at me all the time.”
“So I figured I’d get a haircut,” he grinned.
The Hairdresser shook her head, as if he’d said the most charming thing in the world. “Short on the sides, longish on top, long bangs?,” she asked? Lilting? She ran her long thing white fingers through his longish darkish damp brown hair.
“Yup. The usual. Only I want to shave off my moustache.”
Hipster Hairdresser looked as if he’d called her a c**t. She paled and stepped back, nearly cutting him with her big silver scissors. “Noooo. It’s been yeeears.”
“Okay, you’re right,” he gave in without a fight. “Love troubles is no reason to go messing up my look. I just figured it’d be a kind of romantic monk kinda thing, you know?”
“Me neither.” So they went back to talking about, you know, like, whatever.
And he paid his cash, eyeing the cashier, being big and loud and charming and figuring he’d call her up or whatever whenever Yoga Girl finally dumped him.
He didn’t have to wait long.
Later that night, after cheap wine and a big pot of cous cous or quinoa or whatever it was, Yoga Girl was darkly lying around, her black curling hair cascading lazily over an ugly old armchair. She was watching Homeland on the laptop in her lap. “I don’t get this show,” she complained. “I heard Obama was watching it; it’s like his favorite show.” The whole show was messed up people being messed up to each other. Not pleasant at all.
Five minutes passed.
“Hunh,” he answered, doing his part to keep the conversation flowing. He was blogging about relationships, didn’t have time to blab with the crazy woman in his living room.
Yoga Girl continued: “You know how you’re all into this Buddhist stuff? Well Buddhist stuff is everywhere in yoga, you know. The Dalai Lama, Buddha, they’re huge. So I was thinking I should get into meditation. Could you teach me tonight, before we go to, you know, fuck?” She loved saying “fuck,” and she loved doing it.
It was pretty much all they were good at doing together, these days.
They both knew their days as a happy couple were numbered. It was like they were PR agents on the Titanic: the gig was up, and pretending all was well was getting harder and harder. They couldn’t even spend too much money at a foodie bar without getting in a fight. It was useless. They still looked good and folks still thought they were in love…but all Eco Boy could think about whenever we looked at her was his fear of her, his irritation with her, and all she could think of when she looked at him was how stupid he was, how poor and lazy he was, how much of a hypocritical socialist asshole fuckface jerkoff he was, and how she was still pretty attracted to him.
So they kept up the charade, getting a few last fucks in, mutually pretending everything was great, hoping the other would break the news first.
“Yah, okay,” he finally answered a few minutes later.
“Okay to what?,” she asked, having forgotten the question.
He grunted. “Okay to teaching you meditation, I’d be honored to.”
And so it was that at 3:30 am, when she’d watched and complained loudly about Homeland for two hours and he’d tweeted Facebooked blogged and emailed for hours, then watched Obama’s second Inauguration, then blogged more, they finally went upstairs into his simple shrine room.
One of the many things she hated about Eco Boy was that he was a dirty hypocritical mess of a hypocritical psychopathic asshole. Even his meditation room had socks on the floor and messes in the drawers. Eco Boy had an endless ability to accumulate random shit. Eco Boy might be relatively sane with his Buddhism and all, but his living conditions were messy, un-uplifted. (“Un-uplifted” is like a horrible swear word to Buddhists, btw)
Yoga Girl was the opposite. She was beautiful and simply, classically stylish. She ate simply and everything about her was beautiful—except for her insides. Her mind and heart and memories and emotions were a trash dump, a compost heap, a zoo at war with itself, Mad Max, chaos, war, a messy closet. So she figured she’d learn this meditation stuff, get everything sorted and tagged and labeled by color…meditation couldn’t be that hard if he knew how to do it, and then they’d fuck a bit more, and then she’d dump him again, for the last time. Sounds like a plan, man?
They went upstairs. It was 3:30 am. She was moody about Homeland sucking, and the cheap wine had made her irritated with him, and had made him depressed. “Sit here,” he gestured, in a gently spiritual fashion. She sat on the red Samadhi Cushion. He grabbed two pillows from their bed, and awkwardly sat upon them, beside her.
“So, first of all, it’s good to have a room or at least a corner of your house to meditate in. A simple, uplifted…”
“This room is disgusting,” she offered.
“Right. Well I do need to clean it up,” he admitted. “Anyways, have a nice place to meditate in. Then create a very simple altar, with things on it that represent fundamental human goodness, waking up…etc etc [he talked for awhile, just saying a lot of nice words, she was sleepy]. Then, bow. Connect your tush with the solid earth, and the top of your head with the heavens, above, extending endlessly. [she had no idea what any of that meant]. And give that away.”
He was bowing, so she quickly bowed with him. “Okay, when do we meditate, now?”
He growled, inside, but was busy enjoying watching himself pretend to be a spiritual teacher, so he breathed deep and continued. “So, then…just take a good posture and find one’s natural breath. In, out, in, out.”
“I know how my breath works. It’s the same for everyone, you know,” trying to make her snapping at him sound like she were lightheartedly joking with him.
He paused. “Well that’s the point, my friend. It’s universal, basic, simple. It’s a symbol of the present moment. It’s barely there, so it’s a lighthanded sort of crutch, you know what I mean?”
She gave him a beautiful, peeved, empty look.
He cleared his throat. “Well basically just follow your breath out. Let it happen on the inbreath. Follow your breath in. Let the inbreath happen. Follllow it out. Good. Then—when you find yourself thinking about food or sex or anger or…”
“Don’t project on me, Eco Boy,” she snapped. “I’m not thinking about anything, right now, if you must know.”
“Well just return your attention from, uh, whatever thoughts you have going on in your head to your breath. When you find yourself thinking, just label that ‘thinking,’ neither good nor bad [he said more spiritual vague BS in here]. And that’s it!”
“What’s it?” She panicked. She didn’t get it. She felt like he was making fun of her. It couldn’t be that simple. She felt like she was in math class and had missed an equation or how to do something and now was gonna be behind for the whole semester.
“I think you messed it up. I need to read a professional meditation teacher, like Rumi, I think.”
He was too tired to lose his temper, so he just went back to being all Jesus-like. “Yes, Pema Chodron is great. Some people like Sharon Salzberg. I love this simple, small book called Zen…”
She interrupted. “I’m not gonna read a ton of fucking books about meditation. I’m too busy.”
He was pissed. Time to attack: “What, watching Homeland and calling your dad for money?”
He felt as if he’d just threatened a tigress, and immediately regretted it. She stood up from her meditation cushion and said, “Fuck you asshole!” Pointing at him, as if to make it clear it wasn’t some other asshole she was talking to. Her back to the shrine, she started spitting and swearing.
A beautiful woman, technically, she looked really ugly, right now, he thought to himself. Everything was slow motion. He’d tried to teach her how to make peace, and now they were fighting. Years later, having grown up only very slightly, he’d realize that the most peaceful and wonderful thing they could have done at that time was to break up.
And so it went for hourssss. She swore at him, and he found himself smiling. This was it! She was gonna dump him. So he yelled back at her, and she told him he was abusive, and she punched and kicked him, still sitting in front of the meditation shrine. He laughed at her: “you’re no Yoga Girl! You ponce about in your 80 dollar Lululemon thong but you’re just a fucking crazy-eyed trustafarian psycho! You’ve dumped me 20 times this month! Dump me for good! Get the fuck out of here! Get out!”
Oh, he got loud when he got certain. And it felt good, and she stormed out, slamming the door so hard the glass almost broke, and he yelled after her, “get out!,” not making any sense really, and she stomped off.
And he sat in his dark, 5 am living room, alone, and tried to meditate for an hour. And he was scared, and sorry, and tired, and angry…and happy she was gone.
And she went home to her perfectly clean apartment, and saw only her own lack of love for herself. She saw only anger, and her own storyline—bright and certain and black and white—and the real world was but a nearly invisible shadow to her. And she couldn’t sleep.
And he slept the sleep of a newborn angel, alone at last.
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