A Buddhist phase

Anyone who may be a regular reader of this blog may recognize that the posting has been sporadic for the better part of the last couple months. I’ve been going through what I’m calling a “Buddhist phase” lately: I got rid of a bunch of shit in my apartment, I got rid of all my social media accounts, I got rid of most of my hair. I’ve basically been on a quest to distill everything in my life down to its essence, stripping away all the extraneous noise and trying to pay attention to what’s in front of my face as much as possible. Is it working? Fuck if I know, but I feel better, and I’ll take that as a yes for now.

My friend James suggested a couple weeks ago that I sit under a tree. Quite literally just sit under a tree. I was surprised at how awesome it was, just looking at the trunk and watching the sun struggle to get through the leaves to where I was sitting and feeling the breeze on my face and all the rest of the probably-annoying shit you’d read about on the back of a Kashi cereal box or on the Birkenstock website or wherever.

An actual Buddhist who had any idea what he or she was talking about would likely refer to these types of ideas as “mindfulness.” I find myself referring to it as “just do one fucking thing at a time.” I don’t know or care whether there’s scientific research to support this idea that I’ve had for many years (as I imagine many others have), but the human brain is incapable of “multi-tasking” as our bosses would call it with a hopeful look in their eyes. You can do two things at one time, but you’re doing a mediocre-at-best job at each of them. The brain has incredible agility for sure and can swing back and forth quickly between multiple tasks, but it’s not actually multi-tasking in the true sense of the idea. For example, while typing this I’m listening to the La Gazza Ladra Overture. Sort of. I’m not really hearing any of it while I’m attempting to construct anything resembling a cohesive thought, but if I ignore what I’m writing I start to hear the music at the expense of even remotely relevant thought.

This, of course, doesn’t mean I’m not doing two things at once anymore. I still listen to music in the car. I still listen to music when I walk. I still drink coffee and read. I can, however, say that I’m trying diligently to make a conscious effort to do one thing at a time in situations I’ve deemed important to myself. I try to turn my phone off (at least the ringer) if I’m out with another human person so I can pay attention to what’s actually happening to me. I try to actually taste the beer I’m drinking and let it register that I like it (or don’t as the case may be). I try to focus solely on my work when it’s time to work, avoiding e-mail distractions as best I can (and I definitely can’t avoid it as often as I may wish to). Who knows if I’m actually succeeding at any of this, but, as I said above, I feel better and that’s really all that matters.

That idea of focusing on a single thing bleeds into all the shit about getting rid of stuff and ditching Facebook and Twitter and whatnot in a simple way: I’m just trying to enjoy things for what they are. Too often I found myself thinking about some kind of way to relay my thoughts to the digital universe, that yawning chasm of likes and favorites and retweets. I can say with a relatively straight face that I didn’t care ALL that much whether or not anyone gave a shit about whatever it was I had to say, but the entire thing was a hindrance to the simple enjoyment of all that life has to throw in your general direction. I’d be in a concert, say, and hear something that would cause me to take a sort of mental note of what to say and how to remember it, which obviously means I wasn’t hearing the subsequent 100 notes that occurred while I was thinking.

I have no idea what the long-term effect of this phase is, but I’m starting to feel like I’m trudging toward contentment, which people who know me know is something I’ve chased for as long as I care to remember. This doesn’t mean I’ll get there, but it does seem like it’s part of some larger growing process that I don’t fully understand. Maybe I’ll never get to understand it. Maybe it’ll fizzle out as quickly as it started. Maybe I’ll start smoking weed and wearing one of those hideous wool smock things that the stoner kids wore when I was in high school (do those things have an actual name?). Maybe I’ll die via auto-erotic asphyxiation in a hotel room like David Carradine. Maybe I’ll just revert back to whatever it was I was doing before.

The point of this rambling nonsense is that this blog will be on hiatus. I’ll certainly leave it be so anyone who stumbles across it can enjoy or loathe it as before, but I won’t be posting anything for a while. I hope everybody out there in the wide world is well. Until the future times, be easy, y’all.

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5 thoughts on “A Buddhist phase

  1. Love the post. I love your life’s journey. I love you most.
    And remember, God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.

  2. I am so Impressed after reading your blog and always impressed. similar to what happens to me more often with the internet addiction ;) #KeepWriting

  3. nice post! Maybe doying one thing at a time, as you said, lets one feel. What in the end might be living. Nowadays I beleive daily life is full of things that stun. Stun in the sence of not letting feel (instead of sensing). In a similar road, I find spare time gorgeous. It lets me drive my mind to think and order my wishes, my wantings etc. and at the same time, it allows to be aware of what you are living. Cheers

  4. this blog has been a huge inspiration. i hope you’ll be back to list things someday… anyway, lots of love and good luck!

  5. A lot of respect for your quest for mindfulness. It’s something I’ve focused on a lot (but off and on, um…) I know, having spent a little time reviewing classical recordings, that that can take you to an artificial place far from enjoying and experiencing the music, which is why I gave that up. I would, however, quite miss your unique take on the world of classical music. As far as an outsider can tell: you’ve always kept it real.

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