He sat and watched. Its twilight out yonder, and though birds be caged to the skies, they seem happy enough swooping and gliding the clear spaces underneath the clouded gray sky and far above concrete urban dwellings. A few surf the welcome evening breeze and there’s a hawk or two forming a moving silhouette against the setting sun.
The pigeons here are certainly well fed, he noted mentally as was his want. These are the fattest pigeons he’d ever seen. It’s beautiful that they’re not homing pigeons plying conspiratorial messages, the likes of which their forbearers did. Its also heartening to see them flutter freely, no matter how many times we blame them for the plague, he thought (subconsciously humming Leonard Cohen's 'Like a Bird, On a Wire, Like a Drunk in a Midnight Choir...').
He came to and went on. Horses and ponies share a similar plight, in the sense that they’ve been freed from the labors of being the beast of burden. He’d just spied this solitary lonesome pony frequenting the neighborhood where he’d put up to seek a fresh perspective on a life going stale. He’d lived a whole winter up in the cold mountains and had been rendered witless by the monotony he called the 'Bubble Gum'.
So he’d gotten in a trusted battered car that still huffed and puffed some two decades on. She was due a deserved rest and more than a little indulgence in the way she appeared, which was none the flattering. But old habits die hard, and she’d never quit, the rock and rolling ladybug that she was.
His father had driven it before him. And he’d learnt and discovered the joy of the endless road and since then, the two had been inseparable.
In a way, they complemented each other. Their bond was the beat up look and the ragged skin, coupled with tickets from zealous cops and a few accidental run-ins.
The feedback from those who cared to give it was always the same- a look of bewilderment followed by inane queries bordering on the absurd. But that was okay; both man and machine were inured to the familiarity of such questioning and the answer was always the same. ‘What’s wrong with that?’ He’d reply in earnest. The reasoning was simple. It never hit him that the perception was based on appearances. And truth be told, they both looked bad. But that was not a revelation; the perceived outlook of those who knew them was the ticker.
It was okay he told himself and relayed that to the car as well, though deep within they knew a showering was long overdue and must be listed in the offing.
This was one of many options for the drive that brought them to the tropical warm climes of the south.
Then there was the motorcycle a mate had held. The mate had it and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Said he could ride it. Sometimes he’d just get plain lucky on account of pals that did business without bargaining with the devil. And that mate was one such character, and to top it off he had character. The other lived in the same borderline. He was a character possessing the moral fiber that made him the man he became.
Such mates and some more were the silver lining in his life, as was the family he’d been blessed with.
You see, the problem was always himself. It took time but this sense of not knowing, best illustrated by a man he looked upto once summarized: “My heart has always sought a thing it cannot name.” That was Hunter and he hunted the Gonzo Doc relentlessly. How the man wrote left an indelible impression, of the fossilized kind.
That was the dilemma he'd been feeling suddenly chanced upon and the Doc was responsible. It was exposed and expressed in one brutal honest moment.
Snapping judgments condemning the other to damnation was not his way; he’d done it enough to feel the pain and the pinch when he was judged.
The conventional success enjoyed by folks had bothered him far too long; till he sought the road and saw the journey for the destination and dealt with the travails and the beauty that the path offers.
The world had to be impressed he was told; so he played the impresario till he met a crying clown. He stopped enacting that role and became bold if not whole.
He’d acquired knowledge through books and travels; but forgotten the lives of folks who’d given them. This little glance gave him his first peek into wisdom that lives and breathes all round us.
The pressure of conformity had driven him mad; leading him to indulgences that were bad. Now that the war had withered somewhat, he could relax and strangely enough, let go in a moment of spontaneous carelessness that felt both relieving and light.
The pursuit of life’s meaning had brought him none; he’d been obsessed and that was done. He’s trying to take it one day at a time without the gun.
He confessed that he'd hung on a rope once; on the subject of why he’d done it he became a mumbling dunce. Now he reckons it wasn’t that fun and hit upon a plain fact- there’s no such thing as a foe. Yet lessons learnt tend to fade away, as evident when he decided to do a freefall from a bridge. The details are inane but know that life sucked the juices out of me, he'd say looking glum and slum. He'd lived in one, and his sensitiveness was misplaced. Yet again folks who cared had come to the rescue. He'd really wanted to go over to the other side; it was just... He didn't have the words. It was plain he was in pain. He'd keep that in, drawing from it instead of drowning in it.
The mountains he beheld had crumbled; he craved for the plains and the oceans. Set foot and headed toward those destinations. Nothing had changed save his expectations- where once he’d held plenty there stood a maestro- smiling back at him with a profound emptiness that cleansed him of some of the dirt.
He’d left the nest a long time back. Lived on the hop and the rugsack. Home was wherever he’d hang his backpack.
Where women were concerned he’d loved many; treated a few kindly and the rest ignorantly. Learnt the hardness of such attitudes and the inevitable faces of ugly separations. Now he loves freely knowing it might disappear as suddenly. Since he’d loved with attachments and suffered its wrath, he’d decided to love one and expect none in return.
He’d married too, and had a child in a son. He’d divorced as things turned sour and he didn’t wanna be a liar. Today he’s on his own but not bitter.
He misses his son. The moments lost was not lost on him. He knew full well the ravages of time and its repercussions. But he’d accepted his fate, living on with a prayer for his son and the ones he loved. Knowing the dangers that trots and marks the emotional map, he’d decided to quit the lingering kingdom and the hunger of the insatiable romantic and stay as close to his breath as possible. The Buddha was his refuge, the Dharma his path and the Sangha his community.
He'd this writ: "The Tathagatha; And the Eight-Fold Path- Whatelse do you need?" In correspondences he'd sign off with "Take Care, Stay Aware and Be Fair"
Its what kept him sane; although the pull of the utopian want is so strong it still led him to the said bridge. When a man is broken, it’s hard to pin back and glue the broken pieces. The shrapnel wounds and maims and shards of reflected agonies make impromptu comebacks to do the haunts.
The pangs of time spent minus his son stings his heart. The memories of moments spent together warms his soul. And in estrangement his gut grew more and more. He’d learnt that to be is to be just and right and the opposite of that, wrong and ignoble.
He’d been an enthusiastic escapist. A rebel without a clue and a clown with a frown.
Now he says those days are gone.
Now he says those days are gone.
He’d sung Dylan’s ‘Because the World Gone Wrong’, found it convenient to blame the game on the lame, gone to bed feeling the same, till reckoning hit the head like a thunderbolt on a dying, neglected rusting gate. Sparks had flown and fires raged, blazing everything in its path to a hollow raze of burnt gory. It wasn’t a sad story; the ashes had nourished the barren earth, and from that sprouted the first blade of grass- a single little shoot with a leaf that read: ‘This is the way of the universe’.
That sight had given him an eye- for the first time he had vision, and what he saw snatched his blindness. The darkness was a foe no more, and nights of horror became agreeable companions. He was learning to live with the blackness within- and venturing out in the sun-lit states. The clashes were beginning to peel off, and conflicts he’d battled with for ages transformed into sages.
He’d read a lot when he was a yearner. Now he remembered the reading and gave away the books he’d hoarded.
He’d battled the world and discovered the war within. Now he ceased to fight and welcomed the frights. The ghosts lingered but that bothered him none; he’d learnt it was the mind and understood the line ‘never mind’.
The ego had been a shifting shadow. He decided to label it no more. Today he’s mates with the pride and the hide.
The skin peels, shrinks and heals. When it dies it comes back alive. The bones crack and splinter and the body is a decomposing mess. One cannot make a home out of a shelter but you can make the shelter your own till the road beckons and you’ve to move on.
He’d learnt that and yet known nothing. It was all right he told himself- ‘for when there is nothing to figure out, everything is a blessing you shouldn’t miss or dismiss.’
This was the life. He’d known no other. The days of searching had ended. Now it was just a flow of being that required no more banks on the shore. He’d remembered Bruce Lee’s ‘The meaning of life is to first give it meaning’ and been quizzical. Now he was fine.
He didn’t need to know what meaning he’d given his own life. That he was alive was a solid beginning. How it would pan out was a layer he’d bear and witness without any hurry. The judgment had been passed. It was crystal- there is nothing to judge nor to keep.
Everything’s borrowed and as such, must go back to where it belongs- the edgeless great void that is without shape or form yet births all of it and everything in it.
For the first time he understood that that included his own state of being and existence. The point was simple- he’d stopped seeking the thrill and begun to chill minus the possessive drill.
This was the moment of his reincarnation.