A Brief Glimpse

I saw something the other day that really made me take notice. So much so that it has made me a much calmer, happier person in many ways. As some of you know, I teach at some local high schools. While at one of their recent indoor percussion rehearsals I witnessed a moment of pure Zenness. It was fantastic. It brought a smile to my face so big the kids wondered what was up. Please allow me to elaborate in great detail.

I mentioned in my last post about a kid that had been reading my Zen books (although he seems to have backed off the reading recently). On this particular evening things were going along without much "outside interference". Outside interference is whatever may be going on in my students lives that they deem necessary to bring into rehearsal, be it good or bad. For whatever reason, high school kids bring EVERYTHING into rehearsal! Call it baggage, crap, B.S., or anything else...if it's happening around them, to them, to someone they know, to someone they don't know, to people they like, people they hate...if it's a piece of paper on the ground, a bird in the air, a dandelion, a text message, homework they haven't done, homework they have done, a quiz, a test, lunch, dinner...anything at all that has nothing to do with what they're doing in percussion rehearsal, they'll focus on it. Apparently, I work at the school that trains kids, very well I might add, to focus on everything but what they're doing. Way to go A-town.

Back to the rehearsal. So there we were, getting along with rehearsal. During the water break "Billy" (not his real name) gets a phone call from one of his parents. All hell breaks loose. They're arguing (yelling really) back and forth for several minutes. When I called the kids back to start rehearsing again, Billy was not a happy camper. I have no idea what was going on, but he was definitely not in "rehearsal mode" anymore. I'd go so far as to say he not only turned off the rehearsal "light", if you will, but smashed the light and the light switch into a few hundred pieces. He did not want to be there.

Now, in this indoor percussion show that they were working on, we were making fun of shipping companies. You know...UPS, FedEx, etc. The kid's uniforms were khaki shorts, black polo shirts, black knee high socks, khaki hats. Pretty funny looking, which is what we were going for. (It worked). Our music was Rhapsody In Blue by George Gershwin. Now anyone over 25ish will remember when American Airlines used some of the music from Rhapsody in their commercials. It was during this musical moment that our show took a creative, hilarious, turn for the better. Throughout the show, kids are throwing boxes, opening them and destroying them. At the slow point (cue the aforementioned theme music) one of the kids brings out a box and opens it. In it are numerous tutus. Yes. Ballet dance tutus. They put them on and "dance" (and I use that term VERY loosely) to the music. This is when the magic happened.

Billy was the first one with his tutu on. Bear in mind that throughout the entire rehearsal after the phone call, Billy was in no mood to be there. This is about an hour after the call, and he was still just as pissed as when he got off the phone. So he gets his tutu on and starts running out to the center of the floor for his first opening flying leap. As he took off into his midair "splits", a smile crept across his face. It was only there briefly, but it was as clear as can be.

That smile was Zen. He was in that moment. He wasn't thinking about the phone call. He wasn't thinking about getting in trouble later for yelling at his parents. He wasn't thinking about anything but enjoying that one single moment. The smile disappeared as quickly as it appeared, but for that one solitary moment, there was nothing else but the enjoyment of what he was doing exactly at that moment.

When I saw that, I felt something change in me. I suddenly realized how powerful "now" can be. I'd read it a million times. I'd tried to put it into practice, sometimes successful, others not. But this time I saw "now". I physically saw someone living in that exact moment. I saw someone briefly empty everything but the now, and it was spectacular. No troubles. No worries. No thoughts. Just a leap followed by a happy smile.

Since then, I have been different. As I said earlier, I feel calmer, more relaxed. Little things, and big things for that matter, don't bother me much. I'm not pissed at everyone in traffic. I don't worry about things. I pay attention more. (my wife most assuredly appreciates that!) I'm not saying these negative things don't ever happen, but they have certainly decreased many times over. This is good.

To quote Ji Aoi Isshi (13th century):
"Just come to see that everything is passing on,
That nothing in your mind remains
The same for even the span of a breath.
If you see like that for even a moment,
Then for that moment you are free."

Remember...Now is all we have.