Being and Time (Meditation 4)

I’m a stand-up fabulist; it’s a living. There are plenty of others on the fable circuit – at least, that’s what I’ve heard. I’m too busy making up my own myths to really know. It got started when I was young and I imagined how bad it would be when my father got home, or how life would be different if I only bought that thing. The fantasies and nightmares piled up; there weren’t enough closets, and I forgot most of them. The best parts of the craziest ones I managed to hold on to, working them into brilliant new legends, until finally I felt ready to go on tour. I had sweated out some really killer material: fat, juicy lies and delusions so impossible I almost forgot how absurd they were. I drove into town after town, walked on the stages of a hundred motels, eager to begin talking to myself again. I applauded myself from my usual table in the corner, and on the stage I breathed that applause like air. But the motels always quickly faded and I sped to another, brighter-looking motel, desperate to begin talking to myself on an even bigger stage. Why it took so many years I don’t know, but I discovered the motels were all owned by the same person, and all of them were built in the same slightly disappointing way, and always it was just me in the audience – now glancing restless at my watch, now staring embarrassed into my gin and tonic. I was bombing every night; the tales trailed off into a pitiful wish list of lies, with no art to them at all. One night, I stopped talking and listened. For the first time, I heard things: the clink of ice in the glass at the table where I sat watching me, my own breathing in the nearly empty room, the clattering of the club’s central air system. There were no stories in those sounds, no grand motels to come, no shitty motels to drive away from. I walked off that stage, went to my dressing room, and looked in the mirror. I saw only everything there was to see.

(Thoughts on chapter 4 of “Each Moment Is the Universe: Zen And the Way of Being Time”, by Dainin Katagiri. My intention is to write a poem or brief meditation on each short chapter as a way of summarizing my understanding.)

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