A story saved for posterity.
The redesign of the site is progressing well and I would expect it to be essentially complete by the weekend at the latest. I’ve had to make some calls regarding stuff that should stay and go – among the casualties is my old Journal, which will remain but have no links from the main page (as I’ve not used it in months perferring this, however Google still has it ranked highly.
Another is my Zen page, for two reasons. Only the original story made any real sense and I don’t feel the need to jam it (my Zen or Buddhism) down folks’ throats. That’s what this blog is for ?
However for historical / preservation purposes, here’s the orignal story – yours truly’s first step along the Way, helped by an old friend.
A Light In The Dark
Sozan, a Chinese Zen master, was asked by a student: “What is the most valuable thing in the world?”
The master replied: “The head of a dead cat.”
“Why is the head of a dead cat the most valuable thing in the world?” inquired the student.
Sozan replied: “Because no one can name its price.”
I had, for many years, been a very regular patron at a local pub/club on the inner west side of Brisbane; it had been mentioned to me by a friend at the time, who had gone to work there. As many of my then friends had chosen to drink, socialise and even work there, I too had become a regular patron.
However as time passed, many of these people had moved away. Some had found a great career path; others travel, some study.
Others had become disillusioned however, for many reasons. Many who had come after my friends brought their own foibles – and this served to make matters worse for those remaining. Many more moved on not strictly by choice but circumstance. As I’d developed what I had felt at the time to be strong friendships with many of those coming later, I did not leave. Did I suffer too? Oh yes! I had been given the inevitable undesired, unwanted and inaccurate label of “regular”, a “part of the furniture”
This term “regular” became a millstone around my neck, heavier as time progressed.This went on until recently – myself and one of the original patrons left wondering what had happened to it all. We were treated with “respect” but merely on a superficial level. Truth was hidden behind layers of delusion and faked camaraderie. The local suffering index skyrocketed.
However a most unexpected thing happened. I visited one evening to find an old friend, a young lady who had left for the country many months before. She was visiting for only a fortnight – a working holiday – and had wanted to catch up with a few friends, only to find few still there.
Did this dampen my friend’s spirit? No. She was and remained happy – spending time with myself and our other remaining “originals” for no other reason than our company and friendship. Demands from others – others working there, management and so forth – were of secondary importance.
Saturday would be the last night she was in Brisbane. I’d actually expected her to leave before then, being a fair drive back home. So it was an unexpected pleasure to see her that evening.
Again, we’d chatted, shared some stories and anecdotes between periods of “work” for her (which were punctuated by her checking if I was OK)
As the evening progressed I noticed my friends manner in comparison to many others around her – it was like day and night – only the others were still asleep, not wanting to wake and see the light she brought them.
Many of the other staff and patrons would only grace you for their own reasons – their own desire. Whether to feed their ego, monetary gain or cause offence to disliked colleagues and patrons, a whole rash of lies would be fed to the masses. You’d be called a wonderful fellow by someone who would compare you to the Devil in private – and quite loudly and proudly too so the lie would spread like virus. Compare this to my friend – very quiet, never a harsh word about anyone even those we knew she didn’t think of as a friend. Never expecting nor asking for anything, merely good company which she gave in return to those who stayed with her. She respected in kind those who respected her. Her only worry was that she was leaving soon and would miss her friends up here. I too had the same concerns – I would miss her greatly and possibly not see her again.
In the small hours of Sunday morning we sat down and had a last brief chat – I had need to leave as it was quite late and I was pretty tired; she wouldn’t have been far behind. When it came time to say goodnight, I could not quite find the right words to use. A beautiful young lady, in both heart and appearance, was leaving. What do I say?Then the most extraordinary thing happened. I didn’t say anything, nor did she. I looked at this lovely young face and saw contentment and happiness. No sadness, suffering even though she was travelling far the next day. The hug that followed could have lasted a millenia; it had a feeling of warmth and compassion like no other.
We looked at each other again – I remember saying that while I would be leaving, I would not be leaving alone. A smile crossed her face – she instinctively knew what I had truly meant. I told her to take care and said we’d meet again – which brought a smile to her face too – shook the hands of a couple of others I had known there and took one last look around before leaving.
At that very moment the millstone that had I had carried was gone; the innuendo I had been subjected to over many years no longer troubled me. If the staff wished to treat me as unimportant or irrelevant, it made no difference. I felt no ill will to the rumor-mongers, the covetous hangers-on or the blase “snobs”.
I then left with no desire to return.
Indeed I didn’t leave alone that morning. She’ll always be with me, her gift more valuable than anything I could ever buy.
What was that gift? If you know, you’ll have also met my friend and know her well, as she will have shared her treasures with you too – and would want you to share these with others on your path!
For those that have known me for some years – you’ll know the setting, or even the young lady who gave me that first much appreciated push. I hope you’ve been as good to her as she has been to you!