Posts Tagged ‘wilshire blvd.’

The Zen of Everything

September 17, 2009


Every morning, without fail, this elderly Asian man can be found hunkered down in front of the Hon-Michi Los Angeles Shutchosho, meticulously pulling weeds. I pass by him twice a day, going and coming, on my three-mile walk down Wilshire Blvd.

Evidently the gardener or caretaker of this lovely property — one of the few non-eyesores in our not so lovely neck of the woods — I never fail to marvel at the intense focus with which he undertakes his daily chore.

On this morning’s walk, as I watched him, the memory of a day job I’d held years ago in N.Y. came back to me. It was a job that required an inordinate amount of xerox copying. Back then, I was reading a lot about Buddhism, Meditation in Action by Chogyam Trungpa, being one of my favorite books.

In the clinic where I worked, I was responsible for the newsletter, which I had conceived, written, copied, assembled and distributed to the patients and staff each month.

During the initial photocopying process, I’d developed a seamless, input-output, flow of paper-relationship with the copy machine — a robot-to-human connection based upon repetitiveness — which would put me into a kind of meditative state.

As the machine spit out the copies, I’d invoked Trungpa and instruct myself to become “one” with the process. At first, I just did it to make the chore go faster. And it did.

But the byproduct of this synergy with the Xerox machine was the feeling of peace that would envelope me. The kind of peace that’s only achieved through quieting the mind.

I know this may sound a little crazy, my going on and on about photocopying.

But, the truth is, if you fully enter into whatever it is you happened to be doing at the moment and become “present” with that activity — even if it’s a non-activity, like waiting on line at the Post Office — there’s a certain level of fulfillment to be procured from even the most stereotypically mind-numbing chore — if you can resist the urge over-think.

And don’t I know it. Over-thinking should be my middle name.

At any rate, I believe this is what Trungpa meant by “meditation in action.” It’s not always necessary to fold your legs, stiffen you back, and lock yourself away in a quiet room to find peace.

What’s most important is to pay attention to life. Just like this gardener.


One fails to see life as it is because one tends so much to build up one’s own version of it.” – Chogyam Trungpa

Enough Already

September 15, 2009


Today, during a walk down Wilshire Blvd., I noticed this poster plastered on a utility company box.

St. Michael Jackson the Archangel.

I wondered if the artist responsible for it had derived his or her inspiration from the bizarre words the ever-wacky La Toya Jackson had uttered last week in the presence of that celebrity sludge-pump, Barbara Walters.

Michael was “the closest thing to a god that I knew,” La Toya told Walters — a hyperbolic eruption that was probably orchestrated to promote the insipidly awful tribute single (check out the heavenly cover art) that she recently released to honor her dead brother.

It’s not the first time La Toya has used Michael to further her questionable career. Check out the less than enthusiastic pitch Michael made on her behalf years ago in Japan:

I know I’m not alone when I say that this is one messed up family.

La Tolstoy was not exactly correct when he wrote: “All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

The reality is, all unhappy families are alike. Every one of them fights over the inheritance.

And as for you, Joe Jackson: step aside and face your karma, dog.

There But For Fortune

September 4, 2009


Walking down Wilshire Blvd. the other day, a man carrying a lavender backpack (above) happened to pass me by. The bicycle he was pushing was as burdened down as a burro.

All his possessions in the world were strategically secured on top of it — a high-back chair, clean pillow, assortment of plastic and paper bags neatly filled with essentials, and some sort of turbine contraption that was bound, in front, to the frame. Quite a feat of engineering.

But what really got to me was the chair. And that there was just one.

It brought to mind a timeless, tender folk song, “There But For Fortune,” written by the late Phil Ochs, which I’d listened to so often during high school, that I’d worn out the grooves in the LP. This gentleman seemed to be the embodiment of its chorus.

Yet, my curiosity was piqued, because he didn’t look like the typical homeless person I usually see on Wilshire. He wasn’t haphazardly put together. He was orderly, and clean.

Homeless people that have bicycles are usually riding them — with their collection of plastic bags ballooning out all over the frame.

Unlike this man. Interested, I continued following behind him on my way home. At the corner of Crenshaw Blvd., a burly looking guy waiting for the bus glanced at the bike. Then he looked at me and shrugged.

“You gotta do what you gotta do,” he said.

I so admire that kind of laid back attitude, the calm acceptance of the vicissitudes of life, which, to someone as hyper as me, does not come naturally.

As man and bike rolled to the next corner, the light turned red and I caught up to them.

I screwed up my courage and asked in the most matter-of-fact manner I could, “Are you going far?”

“I am moving,” he said, in heavily accented speech, sounding Eastern European or Russian. He was staring straight ahead.

“Somewhere around here?”

“Down there,” he said, craning his neck and lifting his chin toward Western Ave. A beat went by before he added, “Situation is changed. Now, I move.”

With that, he tuned me out and went on his way.

I never would have guessed that this man and I would’ve had something in common. That he would be in the process of moving house, just like me.


Never assume.