Thursday, August 24, 2006


He came in bundled up, drowning in a huge mound of ratty brown knit scarf, bulky sweaters stuffed into an overcoat like sausage into a sausage-skin, a hat covered with a hood, thick glasses. Mild watery blue eyes, magnified, gazed at me more in sorrow than in anger. "I think we need to talk," he said.

Oh, Lord. "Look," I said, "I know what you're going to say, and..."

"No you don't. No you don't. This is why people don't talk to me, they imagine they know what I'm going to say. They don't."

"Okay, I don't," I agreed. Anything for a quiet life. "But still, you're wasting your time."

He was unwinding his scarf, which now enveloped his head, and fell in loops like a boa. Or perhaps more like a boa constrictor. A muffled "Hmmph!" sounded from under there. "I'm wasting my time? Don't be ridiculous. Time is tricky to work with, I'll give you that, but I never waste it." His head emerged from the coils of yarn, his hood fell off, and he swept his knit cap off his head. His hair stood up in tufts.

"Look," he said, "I'm not trying to make you give up anything, okay? You're thinking of some other guy."

"I know what the rules say. And everyone says the same thing. So I'm out. Not in the game any more. You can concentrate on your other clients."

"Doesn't work that way, and you know it. This isn't an optional relationship, not for either of us. You think I answered an ad, to get this gig? 'Troubled universe needs firm, loving God, infinite compassion, omnipotence a plus.' That how you think it works?"

I was starting to get irritated. "How do I know? I'm not even a theist. What are you hanging around me for? Tons of people believe in you. Go talk to them! They need to hear from you, believe me. They get up to all kinds of screwy stuff when they're on their own."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone wants to talk about other people. This is about you, bucko. Don't you worry about other people. I'm on it. The point is... you listening?"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm listening," I grumbled.

"The point is, you got to meditate."

He folded his arms and pursed his lips.

"I have to meditate? That's all?"

"That's what I said! That's what I come for! You want it on stone tablets? I'm supposed set a bush on fire and crouch behind it and talk in a big voice, is that it? Jesus." He started winding himself up again.

"Well, but wait, wait just a minute. Do you mean like shamatha, vipassana, ngondro? What are we talking about here?"

"'Give us a sign! Give us a sign!' they always say," he muttered. "And you show up and give a perfectly good message, and then what? It's not good enough." He pointed a finger at me. "I don't give a damn what practice you do. It's all the same to me. I sent Penny, sometimes you listen to her, but this time I could see it was no use, I had to come myself. Meditate. That's it. That's the message. Don't make it complicated."

"Hey, but wait just a -- that's not fair, you could at least --"

But he was out the door.

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