Sometimes I wonder about my contributions to this world. What am I doing? What is my reason for being here? For the last month or so I have been in a kind of limbo. This limbo is a comfortable place. There is no rent to pay, no ambitions to fill, no reason really to do anything at all. Day upon day looks the same, feels relatively similar (with some occasional sharp divots in the road). The interesting thing is that in this limbo I float about two feet from the ground. Why I find this interesting is because for most of my life my mother and father made me feel guilty about not having both feet firmly planted on the ground. They have often used the metaphor of floating to describe the way that I exist in this world. Now in my middle age, the mid-afternoon of my life, day after day- I am actually floating. Take that mom and dad.
Did I mention how comfortable this limbo place feels? Imagine jumping inside of the softest down comforter. No even better than that- imagine spending the day lying face up on the softest of white sand beaches. This is what this limbo that I am in feels like. Love materialized. Would you want to leave this place? You float around all day, get tanned by the sun, read in the evenings and watch as the ambitious world runs by. It is really not a bad deal- but like most deals, it does have its downside.
I sat with a ninety-two year old Zen master the other day. To my surprise he was floating as well. Except the place in which he floated he would never refer to as a limbo, instead he likes to call it eternity. Why was I floating around with a Zen master the other day you might be wondering? Feel free to ask. Well, I will just tell you. I went to this specific zendo where I knew that this Zen master could be found. I went to him because of the thoughts that I began this story with. I was wondering about what my place in this world was. If day after day I was just floating around in limbo then what real point is there to my existence? If I was doing nothing constructive in this world, had no ambition to get both of my feet firmly planted on the ground- then how was I going to survive in this ambitious, both feet on the ground kind of world. To be blunt- what the fuck was I doing with my life?
When I asked the Zen master these questions (I am sorry to use the cliche name of Zen master to describe this remarkable man but this man does not have a name. I am not even sure if he exists in the same reality that all of us other mortals do. As he likes to say- “he is here but not here at all.”). What was I just saying? Oh yeah- when I presented the Zen master with my inner conflicts he just smiled at me. I thought that he was going to laugh but instead he smiled and floated, smiled and floated. As we floated together there in the zendo, me in limbo and he in eternity, he kept saying “Weee!! Weeeee are floating!!” He expressed this sentiment in the same way that a child swinging on a swing would express joy. “Weeeee!!” “Weeeee!!!” he kept saying as if he was ignoring the very reason why I had floated over to see him. And then like a sudden earthquake or a stroke of insight he said “when floating just float, be floating– nothing else to do. When not floating then act accordingly.” At first I did not know what to make of his strange statement. I knew there was some pearl of wisdom that I needed to fish out from what he said but I was not sure yet how to get the fish off the fishing line. So I thanked him for his time and I floated back to my limbo.
Today the temperature has been in the 90’s. There is not a cloud in the sky. I have drawn a bit in my sketchbook, I have read a bit and I have been listening to some music. I have eaten lunch and breakfast and even found time to meditate. No one goes hungry or gets bored in limbo. I can hear the rumblings of the outside world in the distance. All the people moving quickly to get things done creates a certain vibration that can not only be heard but also felt in limbo. Sometimes this vibration makes me nervous- as if I too should be marching a long, moving quickly and getting things done. I too feel like I am possibly missing out if I just float around here all day and night in my quiet and relatively safe limbo. It is a strange feeling to wrestle with all day in limbo. On the one hand I feel so blessed to not be apart of that endless march to the finish line to get things done. I feel so blessed to get to just float around my house and garden without any real, pressing worries. But at the same time I feel like I am missing out. That there are important things that I should be getting done now. This strange tension between satisfaction and dissatisfaction is the force that often makes limbo a difficult place to remain in.
Weeeee!! Weeeee!!!! I shout out as I float around the house and backyard. Weeee!! Weeeeeeee!!! I shout out as I listen to music or eat my lunch. The thrill of this satisfaction lasts a minute or two but then, on a normal day, I am left feeling like something is missing. What a pain in the ass. Maybe the Zen master is without a name because in truth- he does not exist. The other day I was not speaking to an actual man as much as I was speaking to a state of being. The Zen master dwells in eternity, which is where we all dwell forever if we just sit down and shut up for long enough to realize this. Why not start now? Granted he is a master and we are not- he got there quicker than most mortals ever will but still Zen master eternity is a place, a state of being in which I strive to dwell. To float around and just float around. When/if the time comes that I am no longer floating around in limbo- then I trust I will act accordingly. Maybe. Weeeee!! Back to my book.