I remember when I was in 9th grade I did a project on “The Little Prince” and I remember saying something about not knowing if I had a child’s mind or an adult’s mind. Being, what, 14, it’s hard to tell. I remember secretly bragging about how smart I was to consider it. And of course, the teacher loved my questioning, but I was truly still curious. I remember wondering.
I remember Zen being challenging and I liked that. Under the protection of beginners mind, whatever the hell that is, I liked the challenge. But, I wanted to call my own bullshit. It’s a valiant effort; worth bragging and being proud of. I remember, on my journey here to San Francisco, asking what am I lying to myself about, what am I purposely hiding from? It was valiant and courageous; sexy. I was proud to be so intelligent and self aware. I remember asking myself if I took a teacher, and I told him/her that, would they send me away. Part of me (a large part) was thinking yes. But I didn’t like that answer. My approach seemed genuine enough and God knows it is the truth. What more could they want of me? Why are these perceived Zen teachers in my head always so mean? Why did this feel a little like bragging though? Why is it not ok to think I’m smart?
I have been going to a Zen group and there is a teacher talking there. And it’s been good the first couple times, something I can only imagine what Church feels like. I sat, I listened, I learned, I shared. But then I went to one, and I didn’t learn. I didn’t understand. I judged the teacher, I judged my practice, I judged the concept. I tried to learn, and I just felt isolated. It was on identity, and it was Halloween, and we had to share our identity, and I didn’t share anything I didn’t want to be. We “let go” of our identity. But I couldn’t figure it out. I had plenty I wanted to let go of, but I guess I just didn’t know what I could be if I wasn’t what I was.
Isolating yourself in a new city and changing almost everything in your life is horrible. It seems valiant on paper but it’s not. I’m glad I’m doing it; don’t get me wrong, but it fucking sucks. I am alone a lot. And there is a lot of the same shit, different toilet. You can’t blame situations or people or places anymore. You are always the common denominator. Fuck. I’ve had a lot of breakdowns. They don’t feel as bad as they used to though. They feel almost necessary; par t of it…and so much less valiant, much less sexy. I cried because I couldn’t find a parking spot and was too embarrassed to walk into the Sangha during meditation. Full on breakdown, crying alone on the streets on San Francisco, on a curb I had to walk two blocks to find.
Another night, I can’t remember why now, but I just cried in the car. So I pulled over and stopped trying to fix it. I was doing all the things the Zen guy told me to do, and I’m not supposed to fix it. I just have to sit with it. This wasn’t sexy at all. It hurt. I didn’t want to feel it, I wanted to fix it. I wanted to run away from it. This was my bullshit, what I’m supposed to be calling myself out on. God damn, can I change my mind? This is horrible. What did I sign up for? Well, running away never helped so I tried it. I sat down. I cued myself, “shame, pain, nauseous, heat, throat is tight…”
So that’s where I am, I am having fun and learning a lot, but, I’m mostly crying and feeling my way through San Francisco. That’s kinda what I’m up to. It’s pretty horrible but also really, really all there is. Maybe try it sometime.