“Aussie, many people sent money to pay the big electricity bill for the woman whose husband was deported. It made me happy, it made her happy; the world is happier for all that.”

“I wasn’t happy.”

“That’s because you can’t leave yourself behind, Auss. You’re too full of yourself.”

“I don’t know why you bother. You can work from now till you’re dead to take care of people, and in the end, it won’t be a drop in the bucket.”

“I beg to differ, Aussie. There are times when fewer of us are poor, when child mortality is way down, when deaths from curable illnesses decline, when—”

“Yeah, but all it takes is another little war, or a pandemic, or a drought or two—or three or four—and everything goes downhill again.”

“Aussie, tomorrow I will be interviewing Jared Seide, head of the Center for Council, who will talk about the impact of council practice in the prisons. We’ll be doing it via Zoom on the Zen Peacemakers website. He was telling me what happens when prison inmates, even those on Death Row, sit in a circle, are still, listen to others, and give full expression to their hearts. One of them said it this way: Goodness emerges.”

“Goodness? What the hell is that?”

“Aussie, I think it’s the most natural thing in the world. You bear witness to the depth of other beings, you watch and listen, you get quiet instead of engaging with your mindless chatter night and day, and out of that, feelings of empathy and love come up. For me, what arises is the sense of the One Body, whether we realize it consciously or not.”

“Blah blah blah.”

“Aussie, you remember the walk you, Henry, and I took yesterday morning in the Plains? It was a beautiful day and you chased after deer, barking your usual me-big-game-hunter bark, and you came back just as we were heading to the car. You ignored the treat I offered and trotted off straight to a big puddle made by the rains a few days ago. By the time I got there you were lying on your belly in the middle of the puddle, lapping up the water, taking in the coolness, just as happy and easy as I’ve ever seen you.”


“You were in seventh heaven, Aussie, and when I stopped and watched the scene, I was in seventh heaven, too. I forgot what I was thinking about, forgot my plans for the day, and stood there taking it all in: your mouth open and at ease, Henry sniffing around but not going in—”

“He’s such a ninny!”

“the tall pines gentling in the breeze, the clear, blue air, and I felt at peace, too, Auss. I felt at ease. I felt what that prison inmate talked about—goodness coming up. It’s contagious, Aussie. All we have to do is bear witness.”

“You weren’t in seventh heaven when I jumped into the car, all wet and muddy.”

“It was the smell, Aussie.”

“You think I smelled? What do you call it when you put on Dior’s Jadore?”

“It’s not that strong, Auss.”

“Mine wasn’t so strong, either. It’s called Allure, by Mud. Not my favorite, but that’s what there was.”

“What’s your favorite, Aussie?”

“BamBam, by Raccoon.”

“That white shit you like to roll on? I can’t even be in the same room when you have that on.”

“I adore Raccoon’s BamBam. Try letting go of all your preferences, ideas and opinions, and bear witness to BamBam. Take a big whiff or two. Goodness will emerge, I guarantee it.”

“Aussie, I can’t abide—”

“Sure you can, you’re a Zen roshi, after all. Okay, I’ll make it easier for you. How about Seduction right up the road?”

“The piles of horse poop from Gala and T? That smell is disgusting.”

“But not as strong as Raccoon’s BamBam, right? You know nothing about good scents. Or good sense, for that matter. Did I ever tell you how I hate your hand lotion? Do me a favor. Do not come to pet me after you’ve put it on, it’s terrible. And don’t even think of giving me a kiss after you gurgle with Listerine, I’m ready to jump out the window.”

“Surely there must be a smell we both like, Aussie.”

“Brassiere, by Boris.”

“Boris the bear? He wears a bra?”

“No, that’s the name of his shit. I can’t wait till he comes back. We’re so lucky to be living here, surrounded by perfume: Seduction by horses, Raccoon’s BamBam, Brassiere by Boris, and now Allure by Mud. Or should I call it Goodness?”

“Why call it goodness, Aussie?”

“That way, when it rains, I can say that Goodness emerges.”

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