Thursday, June 04, 2015

Meditate on this!

She wasn't looking her cheery self at all as I waited in line at the checkout lane.  The former body-builder looked tired.  When she looked at me, past the customer she was serving, her smile seemed forced and her eyes a tad tired.

"How are you?" I asked her as I moved up.  I am old enough to know that asking anybody, especially middle-aged women, why they look tired might not be the best way to start a conversation.

"Tired and sleepy."

"I have not been able to sleep" she added.  "I think I have slept for a long time when I wake up and it turns out that it has been only two hours.  And then I simply lie there thinking, and not being able to go back to sleep."

Scientists haven't quite cracked what functions sleep serves.  All we know for certain is that our physical and mental health is affected when we don't get enough sleep.

"Yes, sleep is extremely important" I replied.

"Do you get enough sleep?" she asked.

I do.  I suppose I am lucky in that.

I heard her ask me "do you medicate?"  I told her that I am on Claritin for the grass seed pollen season.  The puzzled expression on her face made me rethink my response, and then rethink her question.

"Oh, you asked me whether I meditate?  I heard it as medicate!  No wonder you were wondering why I was talking about Claritin ..."

"If you mean whether I shut the lights and sound off and sit quietly for a while, nope.  To me everything that I do is meditation.  The cooking, the cleaning, the reading, the writing ..."

She didn't seem satisfied with that response.  Maybe for once I have let her down with my reply.  But, hey, spend enough time with me and I am bound to offer responses that won't always please you.  My thoughts on atheism might not please some, while others might find my criticisms of Modi to be off-putting.  Or, my intellectual inquiries about shit and sex work.  All these work for me; my blood pressure is normal and I sleep well ;)

Yesterday, when talking with the parents, father updated me on the problems that a few extended family members were dealing with.  "I think I am the only one with problems.  But, everybody has problems, and many of those problems are more troublesome than mine" he said.

I agreed with him.  Problems are in plenty.  Who doesn't have them!  Further, as my daughter advised me years ago, each person's pain is that person's pain and we can't dismiss that by comparison.

"Observing problems makes one a philosopher" father continued.  "That's how Siddhartha became Buddha."

I wanted to add there that the world will be better off if every one of us spent some time every day understanding our own problems, and those that our neighbors or friends or family go through.  But, I didn't.

With the Buddha, at one of the Ajanta caves

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