A Love Supreme. John Coltrane becoming spiritual, no more with the heroin, with the drink, with the buttons pushed, no more with accepting the triggers, but finding health instead, peace and Buddha calm, the last years of his life, serene, different. Part of the music legend. A transcendent piece of music; like me, almost fifty years old.
I call my mom to help sort it all out. I was thinking about getting out of DC for a cheap vacation in my old hometown, where I went to college. But it's a long train ride, and it's not my reunion year anyway, having gone to my twenty-fifth two years ago. I'm going to relax, and enjoy a day off from work, and think about camping trips and getting outfitted for hikes. REI seems to be a satisfying materialistic outlet.
We talk about meditation, as a way to get through the bad thoughts that crop up. "I watch the lake, the clouds, the birds... I learned to get the bad thoughts go." That's why I meditate. Through the practice of clearing the mind, I don't get bothered by the past. I deal with what I can. I live, or try to, as healthily as I can. Live in the moment, go for a walk in the woods in the rain. Sit by the stream on an old fallen tree trunk. Walk home, a little less fun, out on the sidewalk of Massachusetts Avenue against rush hour traffic. Do some yoga at some point. Later treat yourself to carry out Chinese.
It's good not to be provoked, to not fall into reacting. But it's a decision, and decisions are often hard. Cheap vacation or no? Would be nice to get out of town... Go rub elbows with old friends, or just take care of yourself, nurse a stiff neck, a tired frame. Admit to not feeling so self-satisfied as to go and paint a cheery picture of adult success and jobs that do more than pay the rent, something you can stomach. Not wanting to go down the path of 'hey, wine guy... ' Like Coltrane, not wanting to be part of the part, not a part of it anyway. Who can you talk about a love supreme without sounding off in left field anyway? And maybe you need a belief in that, or in the Dharma, or some form of peace that might not seem a part of normal logic or the normal successful path.
I take refuge in writing. I don't always get it from a social setting, from the crowds. Individuals within, yes, but crowds doing something, no. You have to realize you're an artist, doing something an artist does, which is more ignoring the social setting's self-congratulatory group behavior. And maybe that's just because of being a different kind of person.
Peace is a habit you slip into, no longer feeling it improper or unearned. Boring, perhaps it feels sometimes. But oddly enough, some support for that, lately, the wrier George Saunders on Charlie Rose asked to talk largely not so much about his writing but about his commencement speech at Syracuse a few years ago, and that of his friend's, both his and Foster Wallace's bringing up the Buddhist's understandings that relate to a firm fixed self, the distance from that illusion through thought and kindness, compassion for other sentient beings. Commencement speeches... advice, guidance, thoughts from writers who've stared at the problems of existence... mentioning kindness.