Under the forsythia tree

“Hey, Aussie, you’ll never guess what happened. Last night I came to my terrific Foundation Training exercise class with Kendra Renzoni a full three minutes early.”


“I knew that after the class I’d have to pick up food items from two different stores, and my mind of course is trying to figure out how to hit one store before the class—”

“I wouldn’t expect anything less from you.”

“I thought maybe I could hurry to the co-op and get a loaf of bread—that’s all I needed there—and I might come to the class one minute late—”

“And saved an entire four minutes!”

“And then I said, The hell with it, and got to my class 3 minutes early.”

The hell with it! You could have saved all that time, not to mention the time you wouldn’t have had to spend going to the co-op after class! What a wastrel you are!”

“You’re right.”

“You have only a short life, why are you wasting it?”

“You’re right.”

“You’d have gotten home about 5 minutes earlier than otherwise, eaten dinner, and maybe even got to start your monthly bookkeeping that very night.”

“You’re right, Auss.”

“You know you’re crazy, right?”

“I’ve known that for a long time, Aussie. In fact, the longer I live and practice, the more aware I am of how crazy I am. I seem to discover more and more layers of craziness all the time.”

“So what good are all those years of meditation? What good are all those years of getting up early and studying and retreating, if you’re not changing?”

“First of all, I do change, Aussie, because everything changes all the time.”

“But what about the changes that matter!”

“Like what, Auss?”

“Like getting rid of your neuroses.”

“That may be something therapy can do, but not necessarily Zen practice.”

“So what good is it?”

“For one thing, I can see those neuroses better.”

“And that’s a good thing?”

“Not as neuroses, but as ways I’m separating from life moment by moment. The times when I close my eyes, when I tell someone Ah, forget it, let’s not talk about that anymore. All those times when I’m in my own dream.”

“I could have given you a list. You didn’t need to do all this sitting for so many years, you could have adopted me earlier.”

“The thing is, Auss, I get more comfortable with all those things you call neuroses. That, too, is my gift from practice.”

“You’re not trying to get rid of them? Drop them? You’re not trying to change?”

“Changing is not on my agenda anymore, Auss.”

“You gotta change.”


“Because—because—you gotta get better.”

“Why, Aussie?”

“How else can you live with yourself?”

“Do I have a choice? Only now I’m living more consciously. I’m at home inside, Aussie, not looking to ditch much furniture.”

“But you’re crazy also! You’re scared of thunderstorms. You’re a nut when it comes to time passing and work.”

“Yup. They’re the furniture of my home. Some of them will drop off after a while, especially when I downsize, maybe go to Goodwill or the Salvation Army; the rest will stay a long time. But I’m not fighting to change anything anymore.”

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