photo/image by sean
Rain dripping from eaves
Sounds nature's poetry.
We speak and write to
Explain to ourselves.
~ Deng Ming-Dao
by Sean M. Madden
Mindful Living Guide
March 5, 2007
This morning I felt restless, and thought a trip into town, to a café, would be the thing to do. While I knew that meditation would be the better thing, I had that cooped-in feeling of being in the flat alone, rain pouring down, and the computer at hand, always, ever at hand. I wanted to get out, to get some respite from the musty odor of our British-winter moldy mousehole.
I telephoned Rebecca, at the restaurant, to let her know where I was going. She made a minor request — Could I, if I felt like it, stop by Fenwick's in Victoria Place for a pot of Burt's Bees lip balm? She would be in town in a couple days anyway so not to feel obliged. But I was happy to incorporate this tiny to-do within the larger plan to take myself off to a café to write.
And so I drove, quite mindfully, into Tunbridge Wells, around and around in an irregularly shaped circle, found a parking spot on a residential side street, parked — almost got my legs amputated by a car speeding down the one-lane road and missing my just-opened door by millimeters — and pushed my small black umbrella through the rain, toward the shopping mall.
Rebecca and Luka would have known just where to go. But I am seldom here. When I am, it's mostly to accompany the two of them, in which case I tend to walk in bare awareness, purposely letting causal connections, interpretations and judgments slip cleanly through me so as to better maintain my equanimity amidst discordant chaos, professionally designed to maximize profits by way of, first, fragmenting our souls.
I found the longest path possible to the department store I was looking for. I then surprisingly quickly came upon the lip balm section, finding the Burt's Bees display seconds thereafter — only to discover, however, that while every other imaginable beeswax-based product was fully stocked, there was no lip balm, their flagship offering. I inquired at the counter, but the answer, when it came, was, well, unsatisfactory in that it contained no real information.
In the meantime, I had imbibed a barrage of marketing messages — garish signage, product displays, lingerie-clad plastic women, women who were no doubt wearing the same undergarments beneath their designer garb, Stalinesque billboards of open-lipped, hair-fluttering models — their eyes watching me, each of us — ever-shifting, nauseating music, costumed furry things beckoning.
And harried humans scarcely being.
Mothers shopping with their daughters, both dressed as if going to a nightclub, no more awareness, wisdom or insight in the one than the other. Consumers consuming.
By this time I was "desperate for the loo," and so continued my butterfly flight pattern in search of a toilet, navigating sexualized single-digit girls alternately skating then stepping, gliding then hopping, toes up heels down, super-conscious of their own image, each a copycat cutout, a two-dimensional doll reared, and now being towed along, by their menopausal-pubescent mothers. Both on the lookout, perhaps for love, satisfaction, the perfect purchase, inner peace, but looking in all the wrong places. Sunday morning.
And, still, the water drops without judgment on the chewing-gum-strewn bricked walkways. Forming sparkling, appearing-instantly-vanishing rings, emptying again into emptiness. Small pools collect, settle smooth. A foot descends, splashes and, still, no judgment, no interpretation, immediate resolution, ripples accommodated without hesitation, the individual at one with the whole. Other drops fall on cheeks, on eyelashes. Others catch and, then, tumble down the sharp descent of domed umbrellas, just a few more feet to the pavement.
Teenagers with blackened lungs, ignoring all the warnings — image over well-being, willing victims of city-hip ad agencies and corporate greed. A dance with death. The steadfast refusal of a cheap Bic lighter thumbed again and again within the empty space of a fake-fur-trimmed snorkel, tilted against the wind.
Kids scream. Parents pander. Cars roll on by. The sky darkens, already. Windshield wipers wipe, over-compensating for the slowed rain. Boys slam their young fists on the table. Mothers talk of male aggression. Popular psychology.
Lips are lined and then filled in. Cell phone-cameras
Couples with matching raincoats amble arm-in-arm. Hoods are held to head. Some prefer to feel the rain. Parents get younger, and older. Boots higher, pointier, sometimes more blunt. White to black, and back. Men's faux running shoes gaudier.
Black remains the new black. Stripes go every which way. Shoulder bags color coordinate — knitted hats too. Another single-digit girl is pulled along, toes up heels down. The slightly older brother walks on his own steam, heel to toe. Scarves are tied like all the rest as if this were always the only way, folded in half, the ends looped through.
And still the raindrops fall ...