My daughter and her boyfriend agreed to drive me south to New York today after I talked to my 94-year-old mother who was feeling fragile yesterday. Apart from anything else, Rich, Olivia's boyfriend, has never been to New York. Not only had he never been, he also wasn't that keen on going. "It's all too much," he said, expressing sentiments I could sympathize with. Anyway, today is likely to be a tiring day -- drive down, visit with my mother whose hearing and attention span make it hard to communicate, and drive back.
The decisions were pretty much made on the fly yesterday. And one of the loose ends created by those decisions is a fellow who said he would show up at the zendo for zazen this morning. Twice in the past he said he would show up and then didn't. On Friday, I sent him an email asking him to reconfirm his intention on Saturday. He did not. Today, if he does show up, I will not be here. I have a sense, but don't know, that he would like to think well of himself and his intentions without taking either responsibility or action... either come and sit zazen as stated or take responsibility for not coming.
What a strange and common habit -- filling up on a burning sincerity and then wanting others to acknowledge and perhaps applaud the sincerity. Oh how I really, really, really love God. Oh how I really, really, really believe this or disbelieve that. Oh how I really, really, really want to be accepted in the brother- or sisterhood of those whose activities and demeanor I admire. I would like others to accept and admire me as I accept and admire them ... but ...
But the patience and determination it might take to attain my dearly and sincerely-held hope or belief is lacking at the moment. It is as if some deep-down understanding knows that signing the contract is far easier than reading the fine print; sincerity is no substitute for patient, plodding and sometimes disappointing action. If I act, the dream becomes less shiny ... it becomes common ... and at the moment, I am goddamned if I will give up my shining star, my blaze-of-glory god, my move-me-to-tears vision. I want to or perhaps even need to believe in this shining star: If it shines then I can shine too ... look, everybody! How do you like my threads?!
None of this is unusual or worth criticizing. It is like the person who stands at the ocean's edge, summoning the courage to brave the cold water. Put a toe in. Touch it with a finger. See the others frolicking in the waves. Gather your willingness. Draw back and approach over and over again. I sincerely want to go swimming -- why else go to the beach? -- but, but, but ... heartfelt dream and actual factuality remain unfulfilled. I want others to accept me as a swimmer, but .... eek!
And it's not as if this syndrome were any easier for those who take the plunge. They too have to contend with the sincerity of swimming. I am a swimmer. I am a Buddhist. I am ... something ... some dream, some inspiration, some hope. Again and again the shining dream reshapes itself. The depths become deeper. The sincerity respeaks its shining, shining, shining. If it shines, I shine. And if I shine, perhaps I can find some shining company, some solace, some release.
With practice, I imagine, the need to shine and the need to keep polishing that shine, wears out. Who could possibly shine? Isn't this enough ... all shiny and new? Who needs to be sincere or heart-felt about cold water? Cold water is just cold water ... maybe refreshing ... maybe too damned cold. Does it require all that neurotic nagging? Isn't the shining enough without all that propping and polishing? Aren't the ups and downs of the waves delicious? And isn't it true, "Just because you are indispensable to the universe does not mean the universe needs your help?"
Isn't a day at the beach a day at the beach?