A buddha sits in Brooklyn, and in my fantasy he climbs from his seat in the middle of the afternoon to sip white wine from a Dixie cup. By night, this room was where a half-dozen or more of my blog-buddies slept last weekend, unrolling bedrolls and sleeping bags and then dutifully packing them away each morning, our diverted eyes creating virtual walls of privacy when any one of us was changing or meditating. By day, this room transformed from virtual bedroom to impromptu party-pad, the place where we sat on the floor drinking wine and talking. Buddha never joined these discussions, and he certainly never slept; he aways sat stony and aloof.
In retrospect, I wish I had been less like Buddha and more like my friends, surrendering myself wholeheartedly to late-night poetry readings and the rowdy recitation of limericks. I wish I had photographed more bare faces, feet, and hands, the tangible proof of embodied presence; I wish I’d insisted that we women with pedicured feet take a photo of our touching toes, the painted petals of our grounded togetherness. In retrospect, I wish I’d danced with a small handful of others, but instead I sat serene and aloof, a Buddha who hadn’t bonded enough with the bottle to melt her inner resolve. Like Ray Smith in Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums, I spent too much time last weekend hanging and holding back, wishing I could surrender to spontaneity like wild-eyed Japhy Ryder. Instead of being fully and truly present in Brooklyn with my buddies, last weekend I was distracted with the work I’d brought, the downside of teaching online being the fact that your virtual “class” follows you everywhere.
Now that I’m back in Keene, I’m still distracted by the work I didn’t get done last weekend and the work that has accrued in the meantime: a moonlighting teacher’s work is never done. Now that I sit in my quiet apartment with just a silent Buddha statue, the dog, and me, I harbor lingering fantasies about what didn’t happen in Brooklyn. In retrospect, I wish I’d truly believed our time on earth is precious and brief and acted accordingly, tossing work aside to party with the best of them, stone-faced Buddha notwithstanding.