NO IDEA

Every time I go somewhere as directed by Waze (my preferred app over Google Maps), Ms. Waze immediately proceeds to give me the wrong direction: “Turn right onto N. Leverett Road,” says she, though I’ve already turned left. At which point the squiggly tone comes on to inform me that I’ve taken the wrong turn.

Nonsense, I think to myself, and sure enough, 100 yards later Ms. Waze corrects herself: “In half a mile, turn left on Rte. 63.”

“Now you’re talking,” I tell her.

Miss Waze and I have been having this tête-à-tête for years. She insists I go right as soon as I exit the driveway, while I turn left and wait for her to catch up.

It seems as though every single journey I make starts with the wrong turn. It was Philip Roth who said that you always get people wrong, and that’s where the life is. Similarly, there’s lots of life in wrong turns. Not just on the road, either.

In Hollywood, deep connection happens when two people, often a man and a woman, look into each other’s eyes and spill out their life to each other, heart to heart, eye to eye. It doesn’t always happen that way.

“Bernie,” I say the other day, “give me an idea of what I can talk about in the zendo.” We’re sitting round the kitchen table, which is where we have all our conversations nowadays.

“I don’t have an idea,” he says slowly. “I don’t have any ideas. Maybe in six months I’ll have 1 or 2 ideas. Maybe not.”

“What happens when you do a webinar via the computer?” I ask him

“I don’t have any ideas about what to say. Maybe I bit the end of my rope.”

“How does that feel?”

“It feels fine. Well, maybe not fine. But now I just talk adverbatim.”

I ponder this new word.

“Isn’t that amazing?” he reflects. “I used to have so many ideas, and now I don’t have any ideas.”

“Don’t you miss having ideas?”

“No.”

“So what do you talk about in webinars?”

“It’s tough. All I have is that.”

“All you have is what?”

“Tough,” he says simply.

“In order to really connect, you may have to be unsettled a bit,” Fr. Greg Boyle wrote in his wonderful Barking to the Choir. Bernie and I are settling into being unsettled. He has let go a lot, and his gift to me is that I learn to let go a lot, too. Softening happens not just in him, but also in the people around him.