For years I've read a blog called One City, which is the blog of the Interdependence Project in New York, a meditation community that J was part of when he was living there most recently. I think it started as a small meditation group or school in the East Village, but they've grown into a non-profit organization with a small staff, lots of classes, and activities having to do with activism, the arts, and Buddhist meditation. They're good folks, very committed and hard-working. This week they moved their blog to beliefnet, which is a very irritating sort of pseudo-religion web site, including astrology and new age stuff along with ads for teeth whiteners, etc.
I guess you would say I'm a lapsed meditator. I haven't sat more than a handful of times since I went back to school almost 2 years ago -- before that I sat almost every day for years. But I still consider myself a Buddhist. My outlook, my attitude, my worldview is Buddhist, as I understand it. I've never belonged to a sangha (Buddhist community), mainly now because I don't have a car, but, even if I did, I probably wouldn't. The few encounters I've had with Buddhist groups here and in San Francisco have left me annoyed more than anything else. I have this theory that so many Buddhists are huge narcissists because Buddhism promises some relief from the incessant nagging chorus of Me Me Me in their heads. (That's what attracted me to it, if I'm totally honest.)
So I enjoyed this blog because it gave me a connection to a Buddhist community and I liked that it was New York based because I just like keeping connected to New York, but after a couple days of the beliefnet nonsense flashing at me at 6:30 in the morning when I read my blogs, I left a comment saying basically, "Y'all have changed. This is not for me anymore. Goodbye." Ads for teeth whiteners are so exactly opposed to what I consider to be the basic values of Buddhist philosophy. Being told every morning that my teeth aren't white enough makes it hard to cultivate contentment.
I've been nursing a crush since Saturday. I met this young man, spent one beautiful night with him, and he moved to San Francisco yesterday. Since he is 24 (exactly half my age), I've been contemplating time and aging along with love and erotic obsession and the usual stuff. There's a paradox I can't solve. The feeling that I'm smarter now that I am older and have experienced a lot of things gives me great pleasure. And relief, because I know there are things I know now and will not have to learn again. Painful experiences I don't have to repeat because I've learned the lessons they have for me. So that's good.
Now, I know, even though I have playfully talked about following him, there doesn't seem to be an ounce of me that really believes I would do that. I don't even feel anything I might call a desire to do that, even though at times in the last few days I've felt a pain in my gut that would be relieved by his presence near me. (Just to put this scenario in a light that shows me at least a hair closer to sane, though I did just meet him in person Saturday we've been chatting on and off online for a couple years -- does that mitigate things at all?) Twenty years ago, I might have followed him there. I might have at least thought about it. Now, what that adds up to in my mind is the shutting down of possibilities, which is how most people describe aging. The shutting down of possibilities. Most people, but not me!
Every time I learn something, a door shuts behind me?