Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mind gives up

It was probably the worst welcome at the airport I've been in three years. For almost two hours at the waiting area, tried to build up the will to ask her as soon as she arrived to give me a warm hug, or else ... Or else, I was thinking of leaving right then and there. It was really a rip off from this movie about a young mother dying from cancer who decided not to inform her loved ones of her affliction. She made a list of things that she had to do before dying, one of which was to make somebody, a stranger, fall in love with her. One night, she went to the house of this man she met at the laundry and in a very intimate moment said to him straight-faced, "If you don't kiss me right now I'm going to scream," or something to that effect. And she got another tick in her wish list.

Yeah, I know, it's mushy. But as a friend once told me in the course of one of my depressive antics, we need some drama in our lives once in a while. Makes it more colorful and worth living. (Actually, it was her dad who said that.) So for two hours, I warmed my butt on the hard plastic chair at the airport, closed my eyes a couple of times to ward off drowsiness, tried reading Murphy's 108 American Zen Stories, and rehearsed the made up scene in my mind. When she sent a cryptic text message saying she was waiting for her luggage, I knew at once my plan was starting to go haywire. On previous occasions, she would text me first as soon as the plane landed to say she had arrived safe and sound.

My fear was confirmed when I approached her as she was coming down to the airport taxi station with her baggages. With her quite distinctive stinging coldness during such situations, she asked about my officemate who had been confined at the hospital. There goes my dramatic scene and line. I can see my hard-won tranquility tumbling down the airport road and being run over by the baggage cart of this guy who got warm kisses from his wife and kids. In the taxi, on our way to her place, she kept telling me how her mind just went blank after reading my text messages the night before about not knowing how to deal with her, thinking of letting her go, etc. She asked me what I meant with those messages.

For what seemed like endless minutes, it was a monologue as I can only twitch in my seat, take deep breaths, and look out of the taxi's window. But without really seeing anything out there. For a while, my mind tried to come out with an explanation, an idea, or anything that can start what normal people would call an exchange. I really wanted then to get into this dialogue with her, like what she said we've been doing these past years. But nothing came out of my head. There was only this numbing feeling of futility and a sense of being in the same situation many times before. I can almost see where things would be heading once I uttered a word. So, I just reached out and kissed her forehead. After a while, she leaned her head on my shoulder. And then this calming silence.

We had a lighthearted conversation the following day.

"Suppose someone has hurt my feelings -- or so I think. What I want to do is to go over and over and over that drama so I can blame them and get to be right. To turn away from such thinking and just experience the painful body (that accompanies the thoughts and emotions) is to forget the self. If you really experience something without thoughts, there is no self -- there's just a vibration of energy. When you practice like that ten thousand times, you will be more selfless. It doesn't mean that you're a ghost. It means that you're much more nonreactive -- in the world, but not of it."

"With unfailing kindness, your life always presents what you need to learn."

- Charlotte Joko Beck

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