I'm jealous of Buddhists. I wish I had the ability to stop thinking, to be at one with universe and feel peace, to give up everything and reach enlightenment. I can't meditate; the longer I sit still and try to stop thinking the harder it is not to fall asleep. In fact, some of my most successful meditation sessions have ended in a nap, which sort of defeats the purpose.
I did experience a sense of total peace in a Wal-Mart Customer Service line once, though. I hate going to that store and haven't stepped inside one in months, and I hope I never do again. I was returning some blinds that were the wrong size for another set, standing in a line of half a dozen other people. Everyone seemed cranky. Wal-Mart is a depressing place and most everyone in there seems pissed to be so poor that they can't afford to shop at Trader Joe's and Crate and Barrel all the time.
While I was standing in line I managed to completely space out, which is what I imagine meditation should be like. I honestly didn't have a thought in my head. I didn't hear any sound, didn't see any of the people walking past me or the inevitable barks for customer service managers into the PA system.
At one point, several miraculously peaceful minutes later, I was interrupted because a woman had come up to me. I realized suddenly that she had been standing behind me for a while, then kept slowly creeping up until she right in front of me, staring directly in to my face.
“Are you waiting in line?” She finally asked, rather curtly.
I only said, “Obviously,” and gestured toward the now-only-two people in line in front of me.
She seemed surprised by my quiet yet pointed response, and immediately got back behind me, muttering a mild apology.
It's the only time I've ever really put someone in their place, even if completely unintentionally. I had no reason to want to be rude to this woman, but when I realized how she'd been hovering over me, and had interrupted my “meditation” out of pure ignorance and impatience, I was surprised to find that I wasn't really even irritated with her. Generally irritation is what starts, then builds up, then eventually causes me to explode. I was pleased to find that I felt nothing at all, and promptly returned to my vegetative state.
One of my eight tattoos is two Chinese characters stacked on top of one another on my right wrist. They read something like “compassion” and “patience,” but together it's more like “With compassion one can endure.” Surprisingly enough, they mean something. I had chosen these two characters, because I liked the idea of looking at that every day and thinking about the importance of these two virtures, but I didn't give much thought to what they would read together. And older Chinese gentleman who used to come in the bookstore a lot told me once that it was actually a nice and noble phrase.
I also have a tattoo of a latin sentence on my left ankle. Roughly translated to “I think, therefore I am depressed.” Some people think it's funny, some people think it's terrible. I think it's mildly ironic and definitely true. If last night is any indication I can't easily stop myself from thinking too much and getting irritated or depressed as a result.
After getting the email from Kate I wrote and re-wrote a dozen times here in my journal but I was never satisfied with the thoughts I was so furiously typing and deleting.
I don't like admitting that another person has this much control over my emotions or that I could be so deeply hurt by something that was, ultimately, my own fault. I was never what she needed me to be, so we were bound to split up. I keep thinking that I speak about the whole thing as if we were in an intimate relationship, but we never dated or anything like that. But there's something much more intimate about friends that you don't always get out of lovers. More often than not, it seems people from my generation and younger are much quicker to jump into bed with one another than they are to share their deepest feelings; so you may be much closer to a friend than you are a partner.
I suppose in a way, then, it's as if I have ended a very long, intimate relationship. Maybe because I shared so much of myself with her and saw her at so many of her worst times but continued to stick it out with her, I feel as if I'm being divorced, left for another lover.