Sitting Quietly

Shambhala Buddhist Shrine



While I was sitting quietly, I thought about our discussion of Blaise Pascale on Roadmap this week. I ran across the name ‘Blais’ once. It was an ex-employer’s surname and the ‘s’ was silent, so you pronounced it as if you were spitting a bit of lint off your tongue. It didn’t have the command or sophistication of so many French words and names. To me, it was like calling your son ‘Milieu’.

While I was sitting quietly, I startled myself with a cough and realized that I was getting sick, again. Then I remembered the husky-voiced star of a movie we watched recently, who reminded me of Susan Brown’s comments on writing sex scenes. How bad ones are, well, really bad. Touted as exhilarating and erotic, this was a primetime stinker. It did not happen, people. You can laugh, throw your hair around and proposition while rasping all you want but if there is no chemistry between the pair, it won’t work. It can’t be sexy just because those three letters, in that order, are in the word. It was a punctuated snooze-fest.

While I was sitting quietly, I realized I wasn’t asleep at all but awake and having fun, wandering through my amazing but ugly-looking brain. (Yes. I saw a diagram of one recently in a course about that very organ.) Opening my eyes, I discovered that I was in my Shambhala ‘Contentment in Everyday Life’ class and the room was full of people of all ages. Many sat, cross-legged, warrior style, on gold satin zafu pillows filled with buckwheat hulls, while others, with bad backs like myself, sat on chairs. I recalled how Shastri Leesa said that our belly muscles would strengthen as we deepened our meditation practice. I looked forward to sitting on the floor with everyone else soon and relaxing, certain I wouldn’t burst into a Tourette-like whirl of profanities in a room so quiet you could hear somebody’s zen state fizzle.

While I was sitting quietly, I discovered that I wasn’t sitting at all. Nor was I silent. In fact,  it was the last night of the Commonweal retreat and I was standing on that tiny white stool in front of the podium, projecting my voice to the last row of the audience. The air was stifling and thick with emotion. I was reading a poem in honour of Laura, given her Mom’s health took a sudden turn sending her daughter off on a two-and-a-half hour drive just after midnight. My mouth was dry and I was at one of those split-second intervals where, as I explained to David later, I was on the verge of panic. Inhaling deeply, fighting back tears, I felt a surge of fire within me. I carried on with the story of my mother, while flashing on Bushwhacker’s flaring nostrils during a random ad for a bullfighting competition. (Although I have cut down on my TV by eight-five percent, occasionally some stupid commercial will pop into my awareness.)

While I was sitting quietly, I realized, yes, life entails suffering. Lots of it. Women are hurting. Aboriginal and Indigenous peoples the world over are hurting. People in the Gaza are dying. The First Nation’s woman who had half her family wiped out in a month was in agony. Despite our differences, I knew that emptiness. The shock. Hurt. Unanswered questions. Why? What did I do to deserve THIS? I knew what it felt like to be so livid you think your head will spontaneously combust after leaving brain tissue on the walls.

While I was sitting quietly, I knew it was all such an exquisite pain. I appreciate every second of this life although my mother threw me and it away like last week’s garbage. My emotions steer me on many tangents at the most inopportune moments but I want this life. People can and will refuse to give me work, look at me with suspicion because I’m depressed, and make me feel like wasted space when my defenses are down. I do, however, want this life–even when my spine is screaming at me, “It’s time for more steroid shots!” I am alive to it all, good and bad. Finally, I can explore who I really am. Between that, and loving others, I have everything. Even if I live in the streets. Thankfully, I am not a Blaise or Milieu and there is nothing average about Terry despite my name.

Now that I can’t even pretend to sit quietly–I’m bursting with life–it’s time to get up and go give my best friend a long nurturing hug.






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