Tuesday, September 29, 2015

One Cannot Bite One’s Own Elbow

Auckland, New Zealand, 1970
We were in the surveyors office upstairs at the depot.
Present were Buck, Arthur, Ivan and myself.
We’d gone there to get away from the crowded tearoom and have our lunch in peace. Arthur was sitting in a office chair against the wall. Ivan and I stood, looking out the large windows at the traffic going by on Northcote Road. Buck sat in another chair, his busted old legs tucked up for comfort.
Ivan reached back for his hip flask. 
“Do not come to Tula with your own samovar, my friend,” he said with a knowing nod of his head. He took a good pull from his hip flask. I could smell the rum, sweet and heady.
“Yes. It’s a sad business when someone goes crazy,” said Arthur, almost with sympathy. “Unless it happens to a blasted jumped-up-never-come-down so-and-so like Ben.” Arthur, who was justly proud of his profanity, cursed Ben for another five minutes. 
Sympathy wasn’t Arthur’s strong suit, not by a long shot.  
“They don’t speak of ropes in the home of the hanged person,” said Ivan as he stared out the window, a gloomy expression passing over his face.
We had been talking about Ben. Ben had gone a little crazy working in the heat and dust of the worksite at Tristram Ave that summer. He had taken to wearing a helmet of tinfoil upon his head and he constantly jabbered about deadly cosmic rays. He hid in his shack at the worksite and wouldn’t come out. And other kooky stuff. 
He hadn’t shaved or cut his hair for months either. 
He had stopped bathing too, and by now he smelled pretty bad.
And by pretty bad I mean extremely bad. 
Pat, the depot foreman, had set up a pool wagering when Ben would bathe. Pat had bet big money that Ben would bathe by the 20th.
The odds said he wouldn’t.
Today was the 14th.
Buck pondered a moment, his brow furrowed. Then he spoke up. “By Thunder! Take a drum of kerosene up there, eh, Rusty boy? Arthur? What do you think? Bloody give him a bleedin’ kerosene bath, we will! We’d soon have him put right, by the gods!” 
Ivan shrugged and said, “For each wise man there are plenty of fools.” 
“Yeah, sure,” answered Buck. “But have you smelt him mate?”
Arthur pursed his lips and closed his eyes, apparently thinking. He looked somewhat like a toad in this pose. It was something to do with his closed eyes and the set of his jaw as well as the obvious color comparison to a shiny, green amphibian. 
Right then, it would not have surprised me to see his tongue dart out and snatch a fly from Buck’s forearm, eight feet away. 
Without moving his head, Arthur opened his eyes to look sideways at Buck and said, “He has to do it of his own free will, dumb-ass, or the bloody bet is null and void.”
Arthur sighed heavily and closed his eyes, the pain of both educating and insulting his conversational foes almost too much for him to bear. “Null and void, mate,” he repeated. “Uncle Pat wouldn’t like that, now would he?” 
I noticed he managed to expand the insult and include me, as I was the only one in the room who could possibly lay claim to being a nephew of ‘Uncle’ Pat. (Pat, the depot foreman, really was my wife’s uncle.) That was only fair, I suppose, since he’d already insulted everyone else in the room. He’d insulted Ivan earlier, calling him a “toothless drunken old Cossack bastard” and was now well on the way to finishing with “dumb-ass, broken old Buck.” 
It was only natural that I’d be next. 
“I wouldn’t let Pat hear you talk like that, mate, if I was you,” I said.
“Well, you ain’t me,” replied Arthur. 
Thank goodness for that, I thought to myself.
“I don’t give a crap what Pat likes,” said Buck. “He’s not my uncle, mate.” Buck thought for a minute, then said, “Dumb-asses, huh? Hell Arthur! You’d need twice the bleedin’ brains to be a bloody halfwit, you back-scuttling frog-eyed son of a sea-hag!”
“Your elbow is close, yet you cannot bite it,” said Ivan to no one in particular.     
Buck and Arthur continued to argue and squabble. Insulting each other was something they usually did when they were together. They drew the worst from each other, mostly, like a bitter, long-feuding married pair, knowing just what buttons to push for maximum effect. I was too young to understand such bitterness expressed so openly and sometimes it hurt my heart to hear them insult each other like they did. I liked Buck, and hated to see Arthur disrespect him like he did.
Arthur was more difficult to like. In truth he was a violent man with a short temper, who wasn’t afraid to use his fists to make a point. More than once he’d given me a cuff on the ear when he was my gang boss and I hadn’t jumped quick enough to suit him. But the men respected him and he was friendly when he wanted to be.  
Sometimes his bickering with Buck could be quite ferocious, much worse than today. It depended on Arthur’s mood. When he felt like it he could be witty and light and keep the insults funny, where even the insulted had to laugh and tip his hat. 
Other times he was downright nasty and brutal, spoiling for a fight. 
Buck didn’t take it personally, so he said. He could sense, as he told me in a private moment, that Arthur was really insulting himself. 
“What have I ever done to him, mate?” he’d asked me rhetorically. 
I shrugged my shoulders. 
“Nothing,” he answered himself. “That’s what!”
“Besides, Rusty lad,” added Buck. “I’m not here to be laughed at, chaffed at, or slung shit at!”
We’d laughed together, then Buck had turned serious and reminded me, “Watch out, lad. He’s a mean one.” 
So today we sat in the office and made wisecracks about Ben being crazy and Pat maybe losing the bet and the new driver who’d showed up and on his first day driven one of the Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers off it’s tread and over the embankment when he was trying to grease it.
“What an idiot!” laughed Arthur, cursing viciously. “My old mother could drive a D-9 better than that!”
“Of that I’m sure!” agreed Buck. “If you ever had a mother!”
“It’s not gods who make pots,” interjected Ivan. He reached back for his hip flask, bringing it out with a flourish. He unscrewed the cap, lifted the flask to his lips and tilting back his head drained it off with a few giant gulps. I watched his Adam’s apple bob up and down as he drank. When he’d finished, he wiped his mouth with his hand and sighed with satisfaction.
“It’s not gods who make pots,” repeated Arthur reflectively. “You got that bloody right, mate.”
We all laughed, including Arthur. 
It wasn’t every day that Arthur agreed with anyone about anything.

Friday, September 25, 2015

“You Gotta Fuck ‘Em Right in the Heart!”

“You gotta fuck ‘em right in the heart!”
I once heard a Hollywood executive say.

We were in a story meeting
At a big animation studio
In the 1990s.
About two dozen of us,
Artists and Management,
And even bigger Management
Who called themselves Executives.

You could tell the executives.
They wore suits and arrived in chauffeur driven limousines.
We artists,
As you can imagine,
Arrived by other means 
And were dressed a little more casually.

The executive was referring,
When he suggested this cardiac fornication,
To a story point in the cartoon
We were working on.

A very big,
Expensive cartoon.
With lots of executives
Putting their two cents in.

Oh boy!
As you can imagine,
That didn't make it any easier.

“Huh?” I answered. “What do you mean?”
Because I figured, however evil this executive’s Hollywood reputation,
(Which indeed was mighty evil)
That he didn’t mean it literally when he said
To fuck someone in the heart.

“Don’t be a moron,” was his answer.
“You know what I mean.”
He stared at me
Through horn-rimmed spectacles
And sipped his Diet Pepsi.

It was seven-thirty in the morning.

In this manner the big executive
Made sure he got his point across.
The point that he was important.
And that you were not so.
I and the other artists
Thereafter pretty much kept our traps shut.

We might just be stupid artists,
But we weren't that stupid.
Besides, like almost everything the Executives did
To improve the movie,
We’d have to fix it up later anyway.

But we knew what the executive meant.
He meant that he wanted the story to be more emotional during the scene,
So that you the audience might involve yourselves more deeply
In our movie and the plight of its hero.

“The suspension of disbelief” this audience involvement is called.
And we rely upon it tremendously in the movie business.
The idea that you will sit back
And enjoy the experience,
Rather than think too hard about what you are seeing.

Zen, on the contrary,
Wants you to think deeply and fully
About what you are experiencing
As you live your life.
To become aware of your emotions
And what causes you to feel the way you do.
And to attempt the controlling 
Of these thoughts and emotions,
As difficult as that may be,
Thereby increasing the chances
Of your Happiness.

Please love and respect yourself enough
To face life squarely as you find it.
A life you cannot control but must not fear!
And don't fall for every song
That someone sweetly sings.
(For there is much insincerity
In this world in spite of what the liars say.)
Try to protect your heart
From the bloodsucking vampires
(Sometimes called executives,
Sometimes called other things)
Who would merely dally with it
For their own amusement or personal gain.

Or of course,
To profit the shareholders.

So keep your suspension of disbelief
For the movies!
And maybe, if you'd care to, for these zen moments.
But not for real life.

Now, who's got the popcorn?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Where's My Zen?

Where’s My Zen?

Who put my zen where it is?
That’s a silly question.
Nobody did!

It was there the whole time.

The Answer Is Yes

Is zen good?
Or bad?


Is it big?
Or small?

Again yes.

Is zen …?

Wait a minute.
Sorry to interrupt.
I think I know where this is going,
And I have the answer already.

Which is very zen, don’t you think?

Anyway, I know the answer to your question
Before you even pose it.
Whatever your question is,
If it’s regarding zen,
The answer is yes.

It’s All the Same to Zen

I needed plenty of zen yesterday.
I had to do something I didn’t want to do.

So what!
That’s life, right?
We all have to do stuff we don’t want to do.
Stop whining.
And be glad for the opportunity to live another day.

For you never know what tomorrow will bring.

That’s strong zen.
An answer like that.

Anyway, I had to do something I didn’t want to do,
Which required plenty of zen.
I went to the doctor.
A dermatologist, to be exact.

After waiting in a crowded reception area
For a very long time,
I was shown to a cold little room
By a cold little nurse.

“Doctor will be with you soon,” she said.
“Please disrobe down to your underwear.”
Then she left.
I sat in my underwear and waited.

Doctor arrived and said hello,
Everything okay?
He put on some funny looking magnifying spectacles 
And he looked me over.

Hmmmm, he said.
Then he cut something from my face.

Something he thinks might possibly, eventually, kill me.
Great big cancers 
From tiny abnormalities grow, 
Was the way he put it.

By the temple.
On the hairline.
A tiny freckle.
He sent it for analysis.

A biopsy, he called it.
“We’ll see,” he said.
“I’ll call you in a week or ten days 
With the results,” he promised.

Don’t worry, he also promised,
No matter what,
Whether it’s good news or bad,
That he’d give me a call.

Good or bad,
It was all the same to him.
Extremely zen!

My Zen Does All the Work

People from all over the world ask me about my zen.
We’re nearly famous, my zen and I.
It’s getting to be
Like I was an internet zen-sation.

Ha ha.
That was a joke.
In case you missed it.

At times it’s difficult being a human being.
Don’t you agree?
But no one promised it would be easy, did they?

Sometimes a joke can help.
Sometimes not.
Depends on the joke, I suppose.

Yes, we’re getting famous.
My zen and I.
That’s okay with me.
You see, my zen does all the work
And I take all the credit.

My zen doesn’t complain though.
That’s not it’s style.

It just keeps working for me,
(If I remember to use it)
Faithfully working.
Forever and ever.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hundreds of Chimpanzees

I had a particularly disagreeable conversation with my publisher last night. 
The Company wants me to deliver my next book in time for Christmas.
“Christmas?” I whined, “that’s six months ahead of schedule!” 
I always end up whining when I talk with my publisher. That, or crying.
“So what?” she said. “We need it by then, it’s as simple as that. If you must know the writer whose book was supposed to go out for Christmas shot himself yesterday…”
“What?” I interupted. “Shot himself? Who?”
“… and we need a replacement in a hurry. Never mind who it was. It was nobody you knew.” 
That was probably true. They keep us writers apart as much as possible, to stop us getting together and plotting for better conditions or more money. I made a mental note to check later for writer obituaries on the internet.
“The Company expects you to step up and earn all that money they pay you, Mr Pliers.”
She didn’t usually call me Mr anything. That made me suspicious.
“What money?” I asked. “I haven’t been paid for my last book yet!”
“That’s a matter for the courts to decide,” she reminded me agreeably.
I mumbled something nasty about lawyers under my breath.
“I wish you’d learn to write a better first draft,” she complained. “We can hardly make any sense of it out here!” Rewrites on my latest manuscript go poorly, she added, and the pressure’s on her to show immediate improvement.
The Company doesn’t tolerate failure of any kind, she reminded me.
“That’s not my problem,” I answered agreeably. “Besides, now’s your chance to step up and earn all that money the Company’s paying you.”
She laughed and it was like acid pouring into my ears.
“Touché,” she said softly.
According to Company financial analyzers, after the first draft I as a writer am not fiscally viable, being too slow, so the Company doesn’t allow me to rewrite my own material anymore, preferring instead for me to get on with the next book while they trust rewriting to cost-effective interning teenage ghostwriters, and the eggheads downstairs who are trying to come up with a computer program to replace me. 
That, and the remote possibility that one of the hundreds of chimpanzees they have locked in the basement with Apple computers will actually come up with a novel worthy of Rusty Pliers. 
Ha! That’s a laugh! 
So far, all those damned monkeys have come up with is a couple of short stories slightly reminiscent of Haruki Murakami.
“Maybe the Company should hire better rewrite people,” I suggested. “Or smarter chimps.”
That only made her angry. She started to tear me a new one.
So I hung up on her. 
This is no time for listening to her insults, I figured. I’ve got to get back to work. 
I’ve got a lot to do if I’m going to finish my first draft in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Whiskey and Soda

Auckland, New Zealand, 1969

Ethne and I were staying at the Big I for our honeymoon. 
The Auckland Intercontinental Hotel, “The Big I” it was affectionately called, was a deluxe, modern hotel, with fantastic views of Albert Park’s green expanse and the bustling city center and out to the glorious Waitemata harbor, vast and blue, where stood giant Rangitoto, the extinct volcano that’s named after a god. 
On my honeymoon, as I was saying.
I was sixteen years old, my bride Ethne was seventeen.
We’d been married earlier that day in the presence of our parents and families at the Registry Office in downtown Auckland, and then had returned to the suburbs of Avondale for a simple reception at Ethne’s house.
The reception was a modest affair as befitted a workingman’s (Ethne’s) family, a family of recent immigrants (mine) to New Zealand, and the sudden and complete unexpectedness of the event itself. Yes, it really caught them all by surprise! You should have seen their faces on the night Ethne and I gathered the courage to tell them! I’d never seen my father so angry, ever, and Mick, Ethne’s dad, he hit the roof! 
Boy, could he curse!
Yes, our parents had been pretty pissed off to learn that Ethne was pregnant, that must be admitted, but now a week or so later they were making the best of it.
After the reception, my Dad and Mom drove us back downtown to the Intercontinental and helped us check-in. My father was paying as a wedding present. We parted awkwardly in the opulent lobby. My mother, crying, hugged Ethne, then me, while dad quietly wished us luck, no hugging, saying he’d be back at 10AM day after tomorrow to pick us up and take us home.
Goodbye we said and it was strange and a little sad to see them turn and go.
We were shown to our room. 
Eighth floor, number 807. 
We entered with curiosity, not knowing what to expect. After all, we hadn’t seen anything of the world yet. 807. This is where we would spend the first night of our lives together. Our new life. Never again would it be the same to sleep at home, surrounded by brothers and sisters and moms and dads. 
It was exhilarating and freeing to be alone with Ethne at last. We stood together at the window, looking out at the city and the harbor. It was very beautiful. I put my arm around Ethne and she leaned against me. We didn’t speak for a long time. Then we kissed. We kissed some more and fell onto the bed. 
It was the biggest bed either of us had ever seen. 

That night we had dinner in the hotel restaurant and then went to the Tasman Lounge Bar on the top floor for a romantic nightcap.
Neither of us had ever been in a bar before. 
We sat ourselves at a small table and the waiter came to take our order. A Pimms for Ethne and a whiskey and soda for me. I’d seen Ethne drink Pimms before at home, when her dad had a beer sometimes. I’d had a glass of beer with her dad too, but I’d never tasted whiskey before in my life. 
Probably not in a previous life either, knowing my family. 
I was embarrassed when, due to our obvious youth, we had to show our room key to the waiter to be served. But, that done, we sat back and enjoyed the atmosphere of the place and waited for our drinks.
So this was the big time, I thought, a snazzy hotel bar just like in the movies, all low lighting and soft music. Patrons sat at tables or at the bar itself. The walls were flocked in gold-and-red velvet, and the floors were padded with thick, ruby colored carpet. Large windows gave out to a wonderful view of Auckland’s million sparkling city lights. 
The patrons too, seemed flocked in gold and red in the warm, low lighting, chatting and sipping their drinks. The staff, carrying silver trays, wore spotless white shirts and little black bow-ties.
They also wore trousers, but I suppose you knew that already.
Across from me at our table, Ethne looked beautiful. She wore her dark hair piled up in a sophisticated style, with a simple V-necked black dress that accentuated her figure. A black plastic bracelet encircled her wrist. Nothing at her throat, just her smooth coffee-with-cream colored skin framed by the dress. A touch of red at her lips and fingernails. Small silver earrings studded her earlobes.
Dressed as she was, Ethne was a strikingly beautiful girl and in this sophisticated setting she radiated allure and sexuality.
I’m not sure what I was radiating. Pride, probably, being seen at the side of such a gorgeous creature. Other patrons, both men and women, stole looks at her from where they sat or as they passed. 
The drinks arrived, the waiter eying Ethne appreciatively as he set them upon the table.
Thank you we said and waited an eternity for him to leave.
We stared into each other’s eyes and raised our glasses.
“To us,” whispered Ethne, never lovelier.
“To us,” I answered, very much in love.
We sipped our drinks.
“Cough! Splurt! Hack!” I spluttered, caught unaware by the whiskey’s bite.
The whiskey burned my throat and I hacked for another minute. How was I to know it takes innards of steel to drink whiskey for the first time without distress? “I’m okay,” I lied to Ethne when I finally caught my breath, tears streaming from  my eyes as I fought for air. “I’m just… fine!”
I took it easier next time and it worked out a bit better.
We sipped our drinks and talked, the goddess across from me apparently unaware of the commotion she was causing. The warmth of the whiskey spread through me. Ethne leaned forward to select a potato crisp from the bowl on the table between us, and seeing me watching her she suggestively lifted her hand with the crisp to her luscious mouth, smiling lasciviously and at the same time secretly exposing more of her breasts to my view. 
They were heavier now, with the baby on the way. 
My gaze lifted from her cleavage to her eyes. Ethne’s large, liquid eyes stared directly back at me. Her eyes were laughing, like they always seemed to do, yet giving nothing away.
I smiled. 
Ethne smiled back. 
“What are you smiling at?” she asked gently. 
I loved Ethne madly. She was my first love. She had inherited, it seemed to me, the best from both of her parents. From her mother Olive came patience, love and a deep spiritualness that lent her incredible confidence and strength. From Mick she received intelligence, determination and humor.
She was also uniquely herself. A loving, gifted, friendly girl.
“You,” I answered truthfully. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Derek and the Square Four

Auckland, NZ, 1970                                              

The work on the motorway continued apace throughout the summer. 
Everyone at the depot was working overtime, sunup to sundown, six days a week.  
Except the surveyors. We were working seven days a week. 
I was now working with the surveyors, having been promoted from the work gangs to Chainman, second Class a few months before. I liked working with the surveyors. The work was easier and they were mostly good blokes. 
I had been working at the depot about a year, and was seventeen-years-old.
It was our job to survey and set out the motorway for the big earthmoving machines as they toiled their way north, cutting and scraping their way up the Wairau Valley. As you can imagine, there were many more earthmoving machines than surveyors, so we were kept very busy.
It was with pleasure then, that we learned from the chief engineer of the imminent arrival of another surveyor to join our ranks. The engineer came in on a Monday morning and told us to expect the new surveyor before the end of the week.
“He’s just out of University, but comes highly recommended,” the chief added.
“We could use the help,” said Peter, who worked harder than anyone.
“Highly recommended?” squawked Ben, who detested work and complained a lot. “What’s the bloody use of that?” As usual, Ben found the situation wanting. 
“Humph!” he added for good measure.

The new surveyor arrived the next morning, roaring up to the yard on a beautiful old British motorcycle. I later learned it to be an Ariel Square Four. He parked it casually but expertly outside the tearoom and twisted the throttle a few times, causing a fearsome metallic bark that rattled the windows in the offices. 
“Vroom! Vroom!”
I went out to see, and stood on the second story landing of the office building.
Switching off the motor and dismounting from the machine, the rider removed his helmet and looked around. He was thin and tall and had long, shiny black hair and a scruffy beard. Removing his sunglasses, he noticed Buck, who had hobbled out from the tearoom at the noisy arrival of a stranger. 
The rider called out to Buck, “Hey! Old Timer! Where’s the office around here?” 
“Cheeky bastard!” replied Buck without anger. “Up those stairs, mate.”
“Thanks, mate. Will my bike be okay here?” 
The stranger turned and walked toward the stairs. He had a noticeable limp, swaying from side to side as he ascended the stairs, one step at a time.
I was standing at the top of the stairs, plainly agog at the stranger’s arrival. The stranger looked up at me, nodded and showed a wolfish smile then continued past me into the office. I turned and followed him in.
“Derek!” exclaimed Peter when the stranger walked in. “You’re the new surveyor? I had no idea it was you! Still got the bike, I see.”
“Yeah, mate. Fixed up good as new. Me and the bike both!” 
They laughed together. Turns out they knew each other from school. 
Ben, a sour, angry sort of person, “humphed” a couple of times and left the office. He did not appreciate the boisterous welcome we were giving Derek. It probably broke his concentration which he valued so highly and besides, he detested levity of any kind.
Derek watched him go, turned to us and asked, “What’s with him?”
We explained as best we could about Ben, without too much exaggeration.
Derek thought a minute, then said, “He’s got a face like a bag full of twisted assholes, mate, doesn’t he?”  
We laughed. Because it was true.
I liked Derek from the start. I hadn’t forgotten his stylish entrance to our depot either, and I asked if he would mind if I looked at his motorcycle.
“Sure,” he answered. What biker doesn’t want to show off their ride? Derek stood up and led me out of the office, limping along energetically. 
As we descended the stairs, I saw that Buck was standing by, admiring the Ariel. Looking up, Buck smiled at me and said, “She’s sure a beauty, isn’t she?”  
“Yeah,” I sighed. I thought it one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.
Buck turned to Derek and asked, “An Ariel Square Four? This is the four, isn’t it, mate? How do you keep the back cylinders cool?” 
I introduced them and they shook hands.
“Wasn’t Ariel the beautiful mermaid of yore?” asked Buck.
"Beats me," said Derek. 
I often marveled at Buck's ability to weave a little truth into the fabric of falsehood he habitually inhabited.
“Ah,” he sighed, gesturing toward the Ariel, “she reminds me of the time I raced a Works Norton at the Isle of Man in nineteen-forty-eight. Or was it forty-nine? Crashed out by the Keppel Gate, I did!” He turned to me. “Sure I must have told you that one, Rusty boy?”
He squinted at me quizzically, as if I should know. I shrugged my shoulders. 
“Ten-thousand bastards!” he cursed. “That’s how I got these smashed up old legs, lad!”
Buck reached down and affectionally patted his crooked, busted legs. He must have told me two dozen different versions of how they got that way, but I couldn’t recall one involving a motorcycle.
“It was a glorious prang!” announced Buck.
Old Buck. How I enjoyed his company, because no matter what the circumstance, there was always a laugh involved, especially if there was a tall tale to be told. Changing the subject, he turned to Derek, “How’d you get your limp, mate? Motorcycle mishap yourself?”
“Yeah,” answered Derek, nodding towards the Ariel. “On that very bike, mate. Over in Auckland up by the University. 
Derek told a funny story of being hit and almost killed by a woman driving a Cortina.
“Geez!” he laughed. “You should have seen the look on her face!”
Derek explained that his unconscious mangled body had twitched to life just as she came upon him laying in the road, causing her to nearly faint from surprise. How he laughed at the memory! He had us in stitches!
Then he added, more somberly, “I spent three months in Hospital with my leg in traction and my jaw wired shut. I’d landed on my face and scraped it up pretty good.”
Then he reached up and to my surprise removed his upper two front teeth. Holding out the partial denture before our eyes, he whispered, “Almossst ruined me manly good looksss.”
We roared with laughter at the silly look of toothless triumph on Derek’s face. 
Derek pushed his front teeth back into his mouth. “Yep,” he drawled. “Bloody oath! That was a hell of a prang!”
Then Buck took us into the tearoom, sat us down, poured us some tea and told us hair-raising tales of great motorcycle crashes he had lived through and in one case, one he claimed to have not lived through, but had died and was revived after death by a beautiful female passerby!
“I was sort of swimming towards the light,” said Buck, blinking his tiny grey eyes behind his steel spectacles, “When I woke up on the end of a beautiful girl!”
I listened with awe as Buck and Derek swapped stories over another cup of tea. Listening to these two crashed up veterans, I was very jealous that I hadn’t had a motorcycle accident of my own to brag about yet. It sounded very romantic, to crash and burn a little bit on something you love.
But I didn’t even have a motorcycle.
It would be years, I bitterly calculated, before I could stand, barely, and on crutches, among such giants of motorcycling disasters.
Some guys have all the luck.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Sound of No Hands Clapping

More Selections from the Soon-to-be
Possibly Forthcoming Book Entitled;
Rusty’s Zen Moments

Undoubted Zen (pg. 33)

I have never doubted my zen.
It has brought me to where I am.
It has always been with me.
From before this life to well beyond it.

“In perpetuity and throughout the universe.”
As my Disney contract used to say.
Forever and ever and everywhere.

That’s big talk.
But don’t worry,
They weren’t bragging.

They really did own 
The work I produced for them,
And any subsidiary spin-offs,
Throughout time and space.

About my zen.
I wasn’t bragging about that either.
It really has helped bring me 
To where I am.

Yes, I worked for Walt Disney.
After he was dead, of course.
I’m old but not that old.
My zen was strong and I was lucky,
And got to grasp my dreams of being an animator.

I even got to work with Mickey Mouse!
Which was a dream come true.

He was difficult to draw though.
At least he was for me.
You had to get him just right
Or he didn’t look like Mickey Mouse at all.

And you know what?
When I worked with him I discovered that
He was even nicer in person 
Than he is in the movies!

The really big stars are like that, they say.
Hard working.
Considerate of others.
Kind to their inferiors.

Like zen is.

Who Put My Zen Where It Is? (pg. 39)

Who put my zen where it is?
That’s a silly question.
I did.

The Zen of Strawberries (pg. 39)

Strawberries are very zen.
They are natural, simple, beautiful things.
And they taste good too.
That’s strong zen.

Strawberries are good for you as well.
So I’m told and do believe.
Except for the whipped cream we put on them
To make the sweet even sweeter.

Put down your whipped cream I say!
And let the zen take over.

Empty your mind.

Let nothing interfere with the strawberry 
And your experience of it.
Touch it.
Lift it to your nose.
Smell it.
Feel it on your lips.
Bite it.
Now feel it inside your mouth.
Yielding between your teeth.
Taste it.
Chew it.
Your tongue exploring, pushing, probing.
Swallow it.
The taste is savored as your throat works and …
Down it goes to a thankful stomach,
There to begin another phase of its metamorphosis
Into shit.

From food of the gods.
To food of the worms.
For are we not gods, you and I?

And tomorrow?
Same thing.
Only eventually, we are the food.
That’s the zen of it!