The Art of Being Human
Part of me kind of wants to go, because reading Pema Chödrön really helped pull me through some dismally dark times. Another part of me wants to go, for the rare opportunity of being in a room full of people who drive Priuses instead of mammoth SUVs with 'W' stickers on the bumpers. And yet another part of me wants to go because for ONCE I could be pretty fucking certain that nobody will be serving me deep fried pig penises boiled in the same damn vat of rancid trans-fats they've been re-using for the past 20 years.
But these are extremely tiny parts of me, compared to the hugest part of me, the majority part of me, the part that wants to run shrieking out of the room and burst into flames at the mere thought of paying $125 to be cooped up for three days with this kind of pampered white privilege. And it's not even about the money, because they do offer sliding scale scholarships for those who can't pay.
I mean, please: "The Art of Being Human"? Hell. You want to see some true Masters of meditation in action? Go to any of the packed waiting rooms at Our Lady of the Damned. These ugly, drab, grungy, noisy, cluttered, crowded, smelly, uncomfortable rooms are the "workshops" where I learned to sit in perfect stillness for eight hours or more. This is where I learned to transcend my own jumbled thoughts, desires, physical pains, and frantic emotions; to tune out the noisy world blaring its distracting Regis Philbins and Bob Barkers and Judge Judys; to let go of striving for goals, to abandon hope of fruition; to feel at one with my fellow sufferers; to wait in utter stillness, with Cosmic patience, compassion, and a quiet empty mind. This is where I learned to respect not so much the "Art," but the Challenge of Being Human, of Staying Human, under conditions designed to brutally dehumanize.
The sad truth is, I can't do it, I can't accept the invitation. I've just lost the ability, lost the desire to be part of that tasteful, elegant, self-consciously uncluttered world any more. It doesn't feel real to me. It leaves me empty, but with the wrong kind of emptiness.
I do my weekly meditation at the funky rundown neighborhood washateria now, with the other poor people. We sit together in stillness, watching sheets tumble in the dryers, folding towels with empty minds, letting go of attachment to machines that work and won't steal our money. This is what really feels like The Art of Being Human to me now. Aum.