So much unsaid…
Darkness on the anniversary of the day the world stopped. Perhaps that’s a bit melodramatic, but certainly on this day 19 years ago many were left wordless and without action.
The title of my post yesterday, “Tragedies,” referred prominently to one such instance. Today, that brother has left his body, not to return in this life in that form. “Farewell Zach, in this form, or beyond, we are with you.”
Time can have a quality of echo and I did wake today wondering how this echo, 19 years later, might present itself in the reverberations of the day.
Today is the birthday of our great dharma teacher. This itself is an echo, longer still than 19 years, and if I think about it, with a much preferred and thankfully more powerful reverberation. My own mind emanates less suffering as a result of our meeting. There have been countless more before me, some of those have even become contagious in their own right.
I was left to smile today, taking a moment as I reached my desk to appreciate and send thanks for that teacher and those teachings.
There was much to smile about today.
Sleep was possessive and I did not stir [much] until the alarm, a beautiful Buddhist chant, beckoned that people were coming and I should be ready to greet them.
Patience and Stephanie arrived, in that order, and very much one after the other. I wondered if Devin would be joining us as she had stayed in the guest bed last evening after we all had enjoyed, at the encouragement of my uncle, a compelling documentary on what may be among the greatest, if not the, challenges of our time.
Yesterday was long, longest perhaps among us for Vanessa – I hope our evening was of positive influence for the process of coming to grieve Zach.
No one had mentioned to young Devin our meeting for meditation in the morning and so it was just the three of us. Or so we thought…
A few minutes in, LB came tromping down the hall. I stirred in my silence, wondering, “is he coming to join the sit late?”
I could hear him enter the room… Silence, the sound of him standing in the doorway. And then…” Patience!” came the whisper… And then again… Now, stirring from the other side of the room, footsteps going out and down the hallway. Keys rattled in the dish.
More footsteps, more quiet.
Begin, inhale, stop, begin, exhale, stop, fullness, repeat… The meditation carried on. Mind emerging in flickers, fleeting moments, thoughts, ideas, stories… The breath… All at once. Partial Staying on the object of meditative awareness…
More footsteps. Again the silence was broken, again the whisper, “Patience”, more footsteps…
The bell rang.
Patience returned and we briefly debriefed the interruptions. Nothing serious, only inexperience with the world acting up the way a child might when confused.
Patience was off, breakfast for she and the girl in mind and Stephanie and I were left to start the day.
I thought I had better share the news of Zach, which I did. And then the conversation took a turn.
Just last week, I learned, Stephanie had lost a cousin to a gunshot wound in the head, a murder. She was sick that week, but also had said nothing on the matter. I was curious.
As we spoke, I learned that the first time she had seen someone murdered, she was eight years old. That same day, bullets had ripped through the house where she lived with her grandmother. She hid under the bed as instructed.
Stephanie is bright-eyed, intelligent, curious, creative, and filled with integrity that, at 23, she is still learning to throttle when it comes to keeping herself in the balance of things. A graduate with an art degree and a passion for care.
She learned to operate and to carry a gun regularly by the time she was 11. She has seen three of her loved ones murdered in front of her. When asked, how many she had lost but not witnessed, the answer came, “too many to count.”
She smiled, almost laughing, when I asked her how many times she had been shot at.
I myself have witnessed a single errant bullet in my life. An absurd situation involving little more than casual, stupid danger.
She has seen vastly more than me.
In a recent interview, as in others, Vinay Gupta derides the West a bit for our recent sense of the world ending. To paraphrase, “welcome to the world of the billions.”
Yesterday, one strange death, apparently a murder seems startling, as it should. Today, a young girl who is close to me helped me to glimpse behind those young eyes to what far too many know far too well.
Storytime was over, time to rise. We had just 45 minutes for breakfast, toothbrushing, and getting out the door to service the car.
A perfect simple smoothie, smiles and conversation and reverence as we took care of a few tasks, checked email, and readied ourselves out the door.
Dave (this name always seems to be auspicious in my life) and his wife Susie are my oldest professional contacts in San Diego. As an assistant to my Sufi teacher, I began taking cars to them to service all the way back in 1995 or 1996, I forget which.
Since that time, any Honda or Toyota that came near me has always been taken or advised in their direction.
Today we would learn if I might have the privilege of reinstating that professional relationship, although my Honda some time ago turned into a Tesla. They just put in a state-of-the-art alignment device that is just what I need, balancing and alignment.
We arrived right on time, and Dave met us in the parking lot. Even under his big mask decorated with various automobile wheel designs, I could feel the smile. I hoped he could feel me as well under the duck beak of the N 95 I have lying around for these rare occasions venturing out.
We chatted briefly and retired inside to the waiting room. Unassuming and comfortable enough, and not changed almost a wick in 25 years, I knew my way around easily.
A while later, word came back, unfortunately due to the technology of the automatic assistance features in the steering, we would not be able to complete the work here today. It lives for now, beyond their scope of service.
Instead we chatted. I recommended the film from last evening. I had mentioned how tall the trees in the parking lot had gotten over 25 years of my visiting. “I’m going to have to cut them down.” Said Dave. The homeless condition of the neighborhood made them too inviting as a bedding quarter. “I wouldn’t mind, we help out at all the local shelters,” he said reassuringly, “but the mess in the parking lot is too much.”
“There but for the grace of God go I.” I thought, remembering the man, disheveled, head bobbing as he sat, conversing with the pigeons on the corner on our way in to the neighborhood.
We spoke longer, I learned that Dave’s father had been a great steward of the forests in the 50s and 60s and beyond, working in the national forest or parks service I think it was. Dave had been privileged to be moved from the suburbs in response to the racial tensions of the 60s, into the inner city where he could live as a part of the challenged world, and not somehow “above it.”
I’ve always known Dave as an honest and friendly businessman. Today I learned of his role on industry boards, in local civic care, in the world is a steward through his good work and what hopefully will soon be long electrified bicycle rides to work.
We did not get what we came for. Instead we got vastly more. On the drive home, it was all I could do to just shake my head at the feeling of my open heart and appreciation for the goodness in the world.
Work and household cleaning study group, creative effort and wondering about DeFi took the rest of the day. Nearly 8:30 PM now, I could easily have slept an hour ago.
Much left unsaid. It is always that way.
God gets to know things, we just get to ask questions…