To be a Zen master,
enlightened and at peace,
must be so boring.
How do you create art
without some tasty angst
coursing through your veins?
Unless it is terrible paintings,
like the kind hung in hospitals,
of pastel beach scenes
or cottages in the woods
that are happy and lovely and completely lacking soul.
The question is, if you are on a spiritual quest
do you want to be an artist, or a guru?
Do you want to paint giant canvases of your days
full of crazy whorls of color
or act scenes of wild abandon,
a Brando yelling up to a window in New Orleans?
Or do you want to be serene all the time,
the sharp points of life bouncing off you
as you meditate in your cocoon of perfection?
To be a guru seems a bit of a nightmare,
always being in the moment
and with that small smile on your face
and always wearing robes (even invisible ones)
and always eating bowls of rice
and saying wise things all the time
and absolutely loving
scrubbing the floors of monastery
cause you’re so in the moment and full of bliss
that f*cking and scrubbing floors are interchangeable to you—
and I find that sort of sad.
And gurus, they can never gossip
with their coworkers
or cry in an empty room with loneliness
or yell at their lover with veins pulsing
or feel completely annoyed because
someone left the top off the toothpaste again
or put their coffee mug in the sink
instead of putting it in the damn dishwasher.
I have no interest in being completely enlightened,
let me have some sin and ego
to keep things fun and dirty.
Let me jump into the middle of the chaos
with a Whitmanly barbaric yawp
as emotions and doubts and mysteries
blow apocalyptically around me
like life is a summer thunderstorm
with the sky turning green
and the leaves showing their pale underbellies
and shaking like Hawaiian dancers.
Life is supposed to be messy
like a house full of love and crumbs on the floor.
I don’t want to be perfect, I want to be alive
and all the good movies have plenty of chaos
and we are all actors in the greatest movie ever made.
I have no interest in levitating above it
pondering lotus flowers and love;
I love love but anger and melancholia
are worth exploring too…
there is enough time for sleep in the grave
and enough time for peaceful bliss
when you float out of it.
Author: Benjamin Watson
Image: Elephant archives
Editor: Nicole Cameron