There is silence in the house and a white pleather couch stares at me. It sits there white and opened armed waiting for my embrace. My legs are crossed and I am wearing my new brown Converse All-Stars. In the other room my lover is working on a drawing in her black sketchbook. My small half-witted dog rests its undersized head on his front paws and looks longingly out the window, which is colored in by winter. Lunch is soon to be served someplace in the world. I feel as if I should have some sort of conversation with the white pleather couch. Maybe ask it how it manages to sit so still all the time. I feel as if I should take off my clothes and lay down on what looks like its very comforting white cushions. Then maybe I will feel safe and satisfied. My half-witted dog now growls at a bird ravaging around in the bird feeder. I am not annoyed or angry because the metallic hum of the heater quiets my mind. I am a bit impatient to do something, like throw myself into the womb of the white pleather couch or finally accept an old childhood challenge and see if I can go fit myself into the refrigerator. But it is almost evening and I have important things that I still need to avoid doing.
This holiday season I will be surrounded by people who love me and who I love. I will be given gifts and give gifts. I will feel grateful for everything that I am experiencing. I will drink and eat too much and I will laugh more than I normally do. I will engage in superficial conversation and talk to people that I would be happy never having to talk to again. I will give a lot of hugs. I will try and open my heart, have no judgement and relax into the Christmas celebration. My wife, whom I love more than anything in this universe, will tell me to smile more and she will probably take a beer out of my hand and tell me that I have had enough. I will have fun. I will try to appear like a confident and happy guy. However, despite all of this, one thing that no one will notice about me this Christmas day is that even though I will be attending a party filled with friends and strangers- I will be in the loneliest place on earth.
If you want to know where the loneliest place on earth is, find a Jew on Christmas day and then there you are (if you find this Jew you would be doing him or her a great favor by giving them a hug and telling them that you love them even though they will pretend everything is fine). Being Jewish at this time of year kind of feels like attending a party in where you are not really sure if you were invited. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that being Jewish at this time of year is like traveling in a foreign country. When in a foreign country you can enjoy the sights, sounds, the language, the food and everything else that makes up the experience of being in a foreign place but you can not escape from the deep loneliness that you feel as a result of no longer being in familiar territory. There is a photograph that I always like to look at when I use the urinal at one of my favorite pubs. It is a picture of an eastern European man holding up a big sign in a crowd of people. There is a sad smile on the mans face and his eyes are wide open in anticipation. His face is the face of loneliness. His sign reads: “Waiting For My People.” This is how I feel on Christmas day.
However are not my people the family and friends that I will happily be surrounded by on Christmas day? I love these people and even though they are my wife’s family they are my family. I feel more accepted and supported by my wife’s parents than I ever have by my own parents. The love that my wife gives me is so strong that I literally can feel it penetrating my skin. So with all this love, support, celebration, gratitude and gift giving why the long face?
Maybe it stems from growing up as a Jew in America. Christmas day was always the elephant in the room. I had to pretend that it was not there. No one really talked about it. While all the other families that I lived around decorated their homes with lights, Christmas trees and scarey blow up Santa Clauses my house remained dark. I remember being a kid and feeling that I was being left out of something important that was going on. On television there would be Christmas shows, at school there would be Christmas parties, all over my neighborhood there would be Christmas celebrations and I was stuck in the middle of it all, kept arms length from all the festivities. I felt like my parents were sheltering me from a potential threat. My father always expressed a certain kind of disapproval towards all the “Christmas crap.” Over time there was this feeling of isolation that developed in me as a result of not not getting to participate in the Christmas celebration festivities. By the time I was in college, I got used to spending Christmas eve and Christmas day alone. I got used to wondering the streets on Christmas eve and noticing that everything was closed (except Chinese food restaurants). I got used to feeling like I was in the loneliest place on earth.
But maybe this is not quit it. The Christmas season always makes me unpleasantly aware of just how Christian of a country I am living in. During Hanukkah which ends a week or so before Christmas I will see very few signs of the holiday in my culture. Maybe a star of David being sold in a boutique gift shop or Hanukkah candles for sale at Target. Other than this there are no gratuitous displays of the Jewish holiday anywhere. This can make a Jew think that they are a member of a secret cult. That their holiday is somehow hidden away, deviant and maybe even unimportant compared to the significant place Christmas holds in people’s hearts. I can not tell you the last time that I celebrated Hanukkah with my sister, my parents, friends and my extended family all together. Hanukkah for me has become a holiday that is more apart of my past than it is apart of my future and maybe on Christmas day when I am with my wife and her family it is hard to forget what is missing.
Loneliness is a strange thing. You can be lonely in a huge crowd, you can be lonely when you are surrounded by people who love you, you can be lonely when you are lying in bed at night with someone you love. Loneliness is not always a rational thing. It is an emotion that begs for attention and arises in response to something that you are feeling or thinking. We can not always control what we feel and think, sometimes feelings and thoughts just happen in relation to something we smelled, ate, drank, noticed or heard. Just as we do not always know why we caught a cold, we do not always know why we feel lonely. It is just there. This is what happens to me on Christmas day. There is this deep emotion that settles in my bones in response to a certain feeling. I try and push it away and keep a smile on my face. I drink beer and eat. I am happy for my wife who loves this time of year and I am happy that I get to be apart of the festivities. I try and have fun. But still I will feel like something is missing. Still I will feel like I am in the loneliest place on earth. Still I will release a sigh of great relief when all the Christmas lights start to come down.
I like to garden in the nude. There is something about doing this that helps me to feel unburdened. Normally I am uncomfortable being naked around anyone other than vegetables. Maybe this is because I know I do not have to look any one way for the vegetables. I don’t have to be fit or muscular. I can let my tummy hang out. I also know that the vegetables do not want me in any kind of sexual way. They are naked, I am naked- there is nothing sexual about it. When I am naked and working in my vegetable garden I am able to feel like I can escape from the age in which I live. Time seems to vanish and I am left feeling like I could be living in pre-agricultural time where things are less insulated. I imagine a world without clocks and deadlines, a world where my email inbox is not filled with emails awaiting my attention. It is just me, the dirt, the earth, the vegetables and my penis, which occasionally gets in the way.
My vegetable garden is located in the rear end of my backyard. You will walk down a long stone path through a large patch of grass. You will walk under a lattice covered in bougainvillea that is currently not flowering, you will make a left hand turn behind the garage and then you will notice the vegetable garden. You may also notice a man who is six-foot five inches working in the vegetable garden. In the nude. He may look like he has a stiff frame hardened by the onset of middle age with a head of hair that is rapidly graying but do not be fooled. This man still feels very young inside, his mind is riddled with a rebellious imagination that would make any four year old jealous and he refuses to accept the various limitations that middle age may bring.
The vegetable garden is covered over by oak trees and currently it is enclosed in chicken wire so that my dog does not have access to the garden. In the vegetable garden you will find arugula, kale, chard, red leaf lettuce, micro greens, escarole, sage, parsley, potentially poisonous mushrooms, weeds, gluttonous caterpillars and worms. I am continually working to keep out the gluttonous caterpillars and worms because they consume entire leaves of arugula and kale. I also try to dig up the poisonous mushrooms because there is something unsettling about eating vegetables that are resting on top of and growing around poisonous mushrooms. But the mushrooms are everywhere. They are all-pervasive in the garden and I feel as if my efforts to keep them out are futile. The goal at this point is just to avoid interacting with these poisonous mushrooms as much as possible because I am aware of the fact that every garden, whether it is a biblical garden or an atheist garden, has its forbidden fruit.
On both sides of my yard there are neighbors who have their yards. My yard is pretty well hidden from view by a plethora of trees and tall plants. I am confident that my neighbors are not able to see me working in the nude in my garden but one can never be too sure. I am always wondering if I have been noticed. Occasionally I will hear one of my neighbors working in his yard. I can tell that he is close to a fence from which he can get a clear shot of my garden if he makes an effort to look through the tall plants. Whenever my neighbor lets his dog run around in the yard the dog seems to like to bark a lot at the area of the fence where I am just on the other side. It can be a nuisance since all I want when working in my vegetable garden is privacy, quiet and calm. I want to feel like I am existing is the solitude of the universe, free from all sense of time and confined space. I want to be free of a world that consumes what is most alive and free about people and turns it into general feeling of unsatisfaction and mediocrity. But the dogs constant nagging bark is a harsh reminder that I live in the middle of LA in the year 2012.
I am mindful of the fact that I may be seen gardening in the nude. I have tried to erect fences made out of bamboo that would prevent an average sized person from being able to peer over them. I do this not so much for my own privacy but to protect my neighbors from what they might see. I spend a lot of time bending over when working in my vegetable garden and I am aware that catching sight of the rear view of a naked, middle-aged man bending over may have a slightly traumatizing effect. I also would prefer not to be seen in this way. If I am seen by my neighbor, then such is life. I can live with what the potential negative repercussions of this kind of sighting can do to a casual relationship. But I take whatever steps I can to prevent this from happening. The dangers of suburban living are not necessarily overt (like gun shots or break-ins), they are more subtle and have a lot to do with what your neighbors think of you. This is why in most suburban communities everything and everyone looks the same. Everything is kept neat and organized. There is not too much expression of individuality. This is because no one wants to stand out for fear of what the neighbors may think and do. Few things can be more malevolent and dangerous than an angry, American, suburban homeowner.
When I am done working in my vegetable garden I like to sit on a wood bench that I made. I will sit there for as long as time and my back will allow. The bench is made out of a long slab of cheap wood and two cinder blocks which keep it erect. In the nude I will sit there quietly, focus on my breath and watch the various things that fill in the space of my backyard. I will watch birds fly around in the big blue sky. I will observe the avocado and lemon trees. I will take pleasure in watching the large palm tree sway around in the LA sky. I will focus my eyes on the green grass. When sitting on that bench it feels as if I am feeding my eyes. I will occasionally tell the barking dog on the other side of the fence to shut up. I try not to think but just watch everything play out in front of me. If it is a warm day I am may try to lay out on the bench and get some sun. If it is a cold day I will usually find a blanket and drape it over my goose bumped body. I will sit on that bench for hours and watch the disappearing sun turn the sky orange and then black. I will watch the moon and stars illuminate the blackened sky and then when I get hungry or too cold I will usually get up and walk back towards my house. Some people may think I am spending my time doing nothing, but to be terribly honest being naked, hanging out around my vegetable garden and being free of any sense of time feels like one of the more worthwhile things that I could do with my life.
“his conditioning is worsening and he is withdrawing further into himself. he is also struggling to articulate feelings which concerns us.” this is a part of a letter that a counselor at my school recently sent to my parents. fuck. “what is the problem son? school is a place where you have tons of support groups, it is a safe place, your teachers care for you and you are the most talented student in the tech club,” my mom said to me in response to the letter. what is she talking about? every teacher in that school is concerned about me. i feel like they are constantly on my back observing me. always giving me tasks to stay busy and telling me that they do this because I have special needs. special needs? are they fucking kidding? “you are given the best services to assure that you will be successful in high school,” one of the school psychologists likes to tell me. really? the best that the school has to offer is a bunch of unhappy, under paid and stressed out adults who can’t think for themselves and sound like robots when they talk about procedures and programs? and they want to turn me into a robot like them? are you kidding me. i do what they say because if I don’t I get into trouble. my parents take things away from me. the school gives me more work to do. i have to do what they say for now but they have no idea how much I hate them. i hate all of this but I cant let them see this or they will bury me in crap. but one day they will see it and then like the idiots they are they will wonder why.
the only place in the world that I have to myself is my room. it is the only place that I can feel like my shoulders are unburdened by the crap that adults put on them. i can do just about anything I want in my room. my mom and dad tell me that I spend toooo much time alone in my room. they tell me that I am going to get eye strain from staring into my computer too much. fuck them. they have no idea what I have to tolerate on a day to day basis. every day I go to school I am flooded with support groups, counselors and special needs programs. do they have any idea just how demeaning this is? do they have any idea the stress that it puts upon me to be put through this day in and day out? always something to do, always someone watching me the moment that I step outside my bedroom door making me feel like I am doing something wrong. and they wonder why I like to spend so much time alone in my room. my room is my sanctuary. in my room I am king and my computer is a universe where I call the shots. in my room I am not seen as a kid with special needs, I do not have to walk around with all these fucking labels adults stick on me. in my room I can be myself, do what I want and point my fuck you finger at the outside world.
recently my dad has been giving me shit about only wearing black. he likes to call me the boogie man or remind me that I will never get a job if I walk around like that. at school counselors ask me why I always wear all black. they have even asked my parents to stop buying me black clothes but if my parents do that I will refuse to wear anything at all. i like wearing black because it makes me feel like I can blend in. all other colors make me feel like I stand out and I don’t want to stand out any more than I already do. i already get enough shit and other colors would just bring me more problems. plus I love the color black. it expresses how I feel on the inside. when I wear black I feel like people fear me and stay away. like I am the grim reaper or something. i have heard some kids in my high school call me this. maybe I am. fuck them.
“friends, why don’t you have more friends?” my parents always wine. fuck friends. friends are a waste of time. i don’t like other people and other people don’t like me and I am fine with that. anyways the majority of kids my age are a bunch of sell outs. they do what the school and their parents say and never question anything. all the kids in my special needs group accept that they have special needs. they accept that they are the problem. they have been brainwashed by their teachers and parents. they don’t realize that the reason why they have special needs is because deep inside they are pissed off. they are pissed off by their parents who are pissed off at someone else. they are stressed out by a society that runs its citizens down to the bone. every where they go they are being forced to do things they do not want to do. they don’t have special needs because they are retarded, they have special needs because the entire society that has been erected around them is retarded and fucked up. but these kids are too brainwashed to see that the problem is not them. if any one should have special needs it is their parents, this is what got them into this situation in the first place: their parents special needs.
i know that I am young but I am not dumb enough to think that my condition is worsening. it is the condition of the american society that I live in that is worsening. it is my parents condition that is worsening. what the fuck do they expect from me, to be happy and outgoing when all around me the condition of adults is worsening? the economy is getting worse, the environment is getting worse, adults are over worked, there are more laws telling them what they have to do, it is more expensive than ever to survive and on and on. the condition that the world of adults have created is worsening and they don’t think that this is going to have an effect on us? what the fuck. open your eyes idiots. look at yourselves rather than blaming us. you wonder why the fuck I spend all my free time in my room, the world you adults have created is getting worse and worse by the day and I don’t want to have anything to do with it. i’m trying to escape people. but you blame everything on me. my behavior is my fault. i have a fucked up brain. go do dishes, clean up the yard. feed the dog, be a good little boy. you really want to make me believe that I am the one who has special needs and needs support groups? you really want me to believe that I am withdrawing further into myself? you really want me to believe that I have trouble articulating my feelings? read this motherfuckers, does it look like I have trouble articulating my feelings!!? fuck you adults and all you stupid fucking kids who have gone along with what adults tell you to do. just fuck you that is all I have to say to all of you. you have no idea what is really going on.
i’m so angry. this world is a prison from which I long to escape. all around me I see people being turned into zombie’s by the world of bills, money and jobs. i don’t want to become a zombie like what the world turns all adults into. it disgusts me. how could adults give up their freedom like that? how could they allow themselves to become so mediocre? this society is sick and people just go along with it. they follow the law, they do what the police say, they listen to their corrupt government, they allow corporations to make tons of money off them, they show up for work on time- they do exactly what they are told. i can’t stand it.
my parents are always so stressed out. they are always so angry. how the fuck do they expect me to be happier in my life, to do better in school if they are always so unhappy? every day my mother worries about stupid shit. every day she asks me questions about my day, “how are you doing?” “did you do your school work?” “you cant do this or that before all of your homework is done, you know this right?” “did you clean your room?” “why do you not put more effort into things?” “who do you think you are just sitting around while everyone else works?” “how do you expect to do anything with your life if all you do is day dream, play video games and surf the net?” it is constant questions like this all day long that make me hate her. i wish she would just shut the fuck up, leave me alone and get her own life in order rather than focusing on me so she does not have to focus on the fact that her husband is an abusive dick and she is stuck in an unhappy life.
my father is so obsessed with work and money that if he is not working he is stressed out from how much he has worked. america turns adults into pigeons scurrying around for any available crumbs. work, work, work and work more- it disgusts me. why are adults so afraid of being different, of not trying to appear like they have money and influence? my father is obsessed with his reputation. everyone thinks he is a nice and successful guy. people look up to him because he has a job where he makes a lot of money. he knows how to paint the picture of success and people love him for it. but at home he is a miserable dick. sometimes he hits his kids, he yells a lot, he is mean to my mother and he always expects us to do what he wants. it is like he takes of his mask and becomes the unhappy man he truly is deep down once he comes home. he is like one of those villains in the video games I play- on the outside he looks good but once you do not do what he wants you to do, or act like he wants you to act- he becomes filled with rage.
and they tell me I have a MENTAL ILLNESS. what the fuck!!?? i have a mental illness? you bastards should try growing up in a house like mine. try living under the same roof with my parents all the time and then going to a school where I am always told what to do, am on lock down and forced to do work I hate. try it mother fucker. you think you would not start to not give a fuck? you think you would not lose focus and concentration? you think you would not have little interest in following rules and doing your work? you think you would not become quiet and resigned? you think you would not do stupid things? you think you would not want to blow up the world? come on- you jerks can not tell me that I have a mental illness until you have lived in my shoes for a few days. i don’t have a fucking mental illness- I have fucked up parents and live in a society that stresses them out beyond belief. the problem is not in my head- it is in your head and in the institutions that all these ignorant adults have bought into. i am not the cause- I am just one of the many symptoms of the world adults have created.
and they want me to take medication? are you kidding? they need the medication. it is like taking an anti acid pill when you have just eaten a bunch of acidic food. STOP EATING THE ACIDIC FOOD AND THEN YOU WILL NOT NEED THE ANTI ACID PILL! these people are so fucked up. my school counselor and parents want me to take medication so that I can focus more, so that I can follow the rules more, so that I can be less depressed, so that I can be easier to control. yeah that is the quick fix- give me the drug, make the drug companies even richer and don’t bother looking at the root cause of what is wrong with me because what is wrong with me is YOU.
so you wonder why I hate this world. you wonder why I am so angry at everyone, especially all of the kids in my school who seem to blindly go along with what adults say. don’t they see how they are being manipulated, conformed and indoctrinated into the very system that is the problem in the first place (and how if they don’t go along with it they get put on mind numbing drugs!)? they are like undigested food for this fucked up society we have created. dont they realize that the adults who are the problem are the ones turning them into the conditioned drones just like the adults are? i cant stand watching this happen everyday. it disgust me. i have no respect for them. in video games we destroy anything that is a threat to our survival. we do it in an instant without any hard feelings because it is the right thing to do. it is what we have to do to free ourselves from the hell that is all around. it is how we get our honor back and restore harmony to our inner and outer world. why the hell should the “real” world be any different than the world of video games? the world of video games makes so much more fucking sense than the world that adults have made. in video games when there is a threat to my survival I am able to annihilate it. but in the real world when there is a threat to my survival I am put on medication and told I have a mental illness. what the fuck!!!
i am SO angry.
Dust, dust and more dust. The inside of my garage is covered with dust. Small and large pieces of dust. Gray and tan tendrils of dust. There are also paint cans filled with VOC free and non VOC free paints. A potpourri of various colors- blues, greens, oranges, whites, yellows. All colors used to paint the various walls inside my home. Other things located in my garage: bicycles, tools, chairs, canvas, pieces of wood, a dog house (this is where my German Shepherd hangs out), dog hair, saw dust, buckets, boxes filled with things that I think I need but will never need, a wood table, door hinges, spiders, a television set that I have boycotted and pair of shoes that my dog ate. The garage has many potential uses (painting studio, relaxation room, office). None of these potential uses are in the process of being fully realized at the moment. Instead the garage sits there, a mess.
The garage is detached from the house. It looks like a one room house with a triangular roof sitting alone in my back yard. It is positioned beneath a large oak tree that is currently loosing all of its leaves. The leaves are creating a frustrating mess all over the roof of the garage and on the property all around it. Sometimes I become so frustrated with these leaves that I roll around in them. As much as I blow and sweep them away they keep coming. Dead leaves are like humans in this way- just when you think there was enough, there is more. When I roll around in the leaves I feel like I am crushing them. Crushing them. Crushing them. There is some kind of deep, psychic or supernatural pleasure that I take in doing this. Rolling in the leaves is very satisfying. But anyways back to the garage.
Garages fascinate me. In America they seem to be sanctuaries for the average working/married male. I often notice men, who are usually over the age of 45, hanging out in their garages. It seems to be the one place in the suburban house where they can hang out alone unperturbed by the domestic space that is taken up by all the other family members who live inside. These men often come up with projects for themselves in their garages. Whether it be working on old cars, putting together model airplanes, building machines, or conducting strange experiments- the garage seems like a space where the average American man can have some power over their world. They can be alone and free to do what they want.
I want my garage to be this for me. As I said- my garage has a lot of potential. It is filled with space and high triangular ceilings (I am six foot five in height and it is nice being in a space where there is room between the top of my head and the ceiling). The inside of my garage is lined with old red wood that acts as roof and wall beams. The floor is made of cement and covered in car detritus but this can be easily fixed. I have often thought that hardwood floors would look wonderful in the garage but my wife often raises a good question, “where would we get the money in this terrible American economy?” True. So for now my garage is what it is- storage room and doghouse. But I tried to turn it into something more. So far I have tried to turn it into a writing room and a meditation room. Since it is in the back of the house it is a quiet space- free from car and people sounds. This is what draws me to the garage. It is a place where I can feel as if I exist in solitude even if I am living in the middle of a city. Even if my house is located just a mile or so from a major highway. In my garage I am able to feel alone while knowing that I am not alone. As far as I am concerned- this is the best kind of solitude. Urban solitude.
As a writing room my garage was not a success. I loved listening to the birds that spent the mornings and afternoons singing songs in the oak tree, but after an hour of writing in the garage I would begin to feel dizzy. I did not know if this was a result of all of the dust or the toxic fumes that emanated from the paint cans that sat just behind my back. I tried to tolerate the dizziness because I loved where my writing desk was located. In the garage there is a small little window that looks out into my backyard. I put the desk just under the window so that I could look out into the garden. Green grass, pomegranate and lemon trees filled in the small square space of the window. I could also see the blue sky above. Problem is that I spent more time staring out the window than I did actually writing. You see to be honest, as much as I want to write, as much as I feel compelled to write- I do not like to write. Writing is often a painful process for me. I almost always want to get up and go do something else. As I write I have to force myself to stay put in my seat. “Lets go! Lets go!” my mind yells but I have to force it to stay. Maybe this is why I gave up the writing room and turned it into a meditation space instead. I realized I needed to get control over my own mind.
Let me just specify by saying that my garage is a rather large space. When I say that I turned my garage into a writing and meditation room, what I mean is that I only set up this kind of space in a small corner of the garage. My desk was facing the window and away from all the boxes and junk that filled up the majority of the garage. It was like a small corner oasis amidst chaos. I don’t want to give the idea that I was able to turn the garage into any kind of organized space because this would be misleading. I only turned a very small section of the garage into an organized space. Is this not what all of us do? We take whatever space we can get and turn it into something that we can feel comfortable in while living in this very uncomfortable world? I think so.
You might be wondering about how I was able to get light in my garage. There are overhead florescent light fixtures hanging from the wood beams. Whenever the florescent lights are on there is this sludgy, bright, reddish, orange, rust color that seems to be oozing out from them. I have always thought that this cannot be a good thing so I don’t use the florescent overhead lights if I do not have to. Instead I plug lamps in to the few electrical sockets that are in the garage and those seem to work fine. As I get older my own eyes require more light to see, so on my writing desk I needed to have two or three lights for night writing. During the days the light from the window was sufficient (I should add that I never did get around to writing in my garage at night. In the evenings I am lazy and do not want to do anything that resembles work. Instead, I want to drink beer, watch movies, read, eat, have sex and/or just lounge around the house. After 5pm my worldly ambitions dwindle away into nothing.)
Once I converted the small section of my garage into a meditation room I began spending smaller amounts of time in the garage. The dizziness that I experienced while writing in my garage would dissipate once I went out and got some fresh air. I decided that if I did only twenty-minute meditation sessions there would be no problems in my head. I found a rug and laid it out. I then put my meditation cushion on top of that. I then found a table upon which I put an incense holder, a pack of incense and matches in front of a rather calming painting of Avalokiteshvara- the Buddha of compassion. My idea was that if I focused on this painting enough it would somehow help me to be more compassionate and forgiving in my life. Currently I carry grudges and can be rather judgmental so obviously the few weeks that I spent meditating in front of Avalokiteshvara did not do what I was hoping it would. But building compassion and forgiveness inside oneself is a process. It takes some longer than others and I am really in no hurry. The meditation space that I created in the garage was a step along a never ending path.
Did I mention the black, furry spiders that live in the garage? These critters can make meditation challenging. I would continually worry about a spider climbing on me or spindling its way down from the over head wood beams and onto my head or shoulders. No spiders that I know about ever did climb on me but I was continually concerned. Every morning I would wake up around ten am, put a blanket over my tired body and head out to the garage for my morning meditation session. I would light incense and sit in the lotus position on top of my meditation cushion. There is a small side door that leads into the garage and I would leave this open as I meditated. I would often look out this door as I sat on my meditation cushion. The garage would be freezing cold but I would tell myself to just let the cold be there without needing to react to it. Let it be, let it be. Slowly I would close my eyes and focus on my breath. Like leaves flowing down a river I would watch my thoughts go by. I would feel my feet falling asleep. I would feel cold. I could hear the birds singing in the trees providing a soundtrack to the plethora of thoughts that dragged around in my tired mind. Just before I was able to get myself into a blissed out state- I would think that I felt a spider.
After two weeks I dissembled the meditation space in the garage. It was getting too much. Every time I would sit to meditate, I would get close to a state of what Zen Buddhists call no self and then instantly think that I felt a spider crawling around on me. It was getting ridiculous. No matter how hard I tried I could not escape from myself and the spiders were there to remind me of this. So I closed up shop and let the garage turn into a space that I would not utilize. Instead my dog and all the junk I own would take over. I now meditate in another, more comfortable room of my house but we will get to this part of the tour later.
So this is it. My life. Covered in dog hair. I have been doing a lot of work lately to learn how to accept myself and my life as it. Embrace it all rather than the fervent resistance that I often find myself putting in acceptances place. For most of my life I think I have resisted the things that I have no control over and accepted the things that I can control. It is a backwards kind of logic that has gotten me nowhere but stuck deep in the most negative parts of my own mind. But I am happy to announce that I am finding my way out of these synaptic penetralias. I am beginning to see the light that is way out there in the distance. The light gets closer with every step and breath that I take but then there is always a new challenge that seems to threaten falling back into old habits. I begin again to resist what is.
People warned me when I got a German shepherd that there would be hair. Lots of hair. I was told haunting stories about softball sized tendrils made out of dog hair tumbling across the family room floor, through hallways, under couches and tables and in-between the sheets. I was told about the endless sweeping and vacuuming and constant battle to attempt to outsmart the fallen dog hair. Yes, I was warned but I am the kind of backwards type that always likes to do the opposite of what people are warning me against. When I want something there is nothing that will stop me (if only I wanted more money I would be a very rich man by now but for some reason I am rather apathetic towards the accumulation of cash). When I saw this particular German shepherd with droopy eyes and head rested helplessly on paws while behind the bars of an animal shelter, I immediately wanted her. My original intention was not to get a dog. My wife and I were going just to look. But deep down I knew as well as she did that our resolve to just look was a lie that we were telling ourselves so that we could get ourselves to the animal shelter without any voices in our head convincing us to turn back or not to go in the first place. It was a way to outsmart our own minds.
The hair is everywhere. It even turns up when I am making love with my wife. When we kiss I always feel microscopic strands of thorny hair making its ways over my tongue. There is dog hair on my toothbrush, in my socks, in between the pages of the numerous books that I am reading (but will probably never finish), in my morning tea, on my records and even in-between the keys of this laptop that I am now typing upon. Dog hair is colonizing my life. It would not be an exaggeration to state that even parts of the hair on my head are no longer my own but are an annoying blend of dog and human hair. What has been the most challenging part of living with so much dog hair has been the way that my dog’s hair seems to cling to black. I have always enjoyed wearing all black, but since I have gotten my dog I can no longer wear black comfortably. Every time I look down at my shirt or pants there is multiple strands of dog hair curled up against my body. It is a battle that I cannot win. Like an obsessed lover that refuses to let go, the more I try and chase the dog hair away, the more it seems to grab onto the darker parts of me.
I talk about my frustration towards my dog’s habitual and continual surrender of her hair with everyone I come across. I talk about it with the checker at the market, the homeless guy who continually asks me for chump change, my clients in my psychotherapy practice, the sales people at the record store I like to visit and even with the mailman. I am searching for insight. Valuable information. I desperately want to know if anyone has found the holy grail of how to prevent dog shedding. I am looking for solutions everywhere I go. Like a person afflicted with an incurable disease, I want to know that there has to be some kind of solution that has been overlooked, some kind of possibility that has been missed. I realize that I am searching in the dark, but I am profoundly optimistic that one day I will talk to someone or put the right combination of words into a Google search and up will come what I have been looking for. I will find a way to stop my dog from shedding.
So far, all of my efforts in this direction have been rendered futile. My search has been in vain. I have been looking for gold in a river that has dried up and where there is nothing but dirt, pebbles and a few footprints. I am continually told that there is no cure for excessive dog shedding and that I need to learn to live with all the hair. I am often told that I have a German shepherd and that this is what German Shepherds do. They shed as much as we humans worry. There is nothing that can be done about it. “Get used to it,” is something that people often like to tell me when I question them about potential cures. Of course I do the opposite of what people tell me. I refuse to accept or get used to it. I am convinced that there must be a way to end this invasion of dog hair in my life. I search with the conviction of one who refuses to give up hope. No, I cannot learn to live with it. It is exactly because I have no control that I must resist.
In the meantime I spend more time with a broom and a vacuum cleaner than I do with any other person in my life. The broom and I are becoming very intimate. In my underwear and t-shirt the first thing that I do when I wake up in the morning is sweep the hardwood floors of my home. I then vacuum up the small mountains of hair that I have collected. By then it is noon. Even though I spend the remainder of my day pulling strands of fallen dog hair out from my mouth, hair, clothes, records, books, socks, food and wherever else the dog hair can find to hang out; I am impermanently relieved by the fact that I have removed the majority of dog hair from the floors of my home. There is something very satisfying about this small victory. To walk through the halls of my home and only see a few strand of wayward dog hair (as opposed to the full scale invasion that is there when I wake up in the morning) gives me peace of mind. I can feel a lightness of being once again. As much as I wish that I could learn how to live harmoniously with all the dog hair, it seems to be a psychological skill that I am so far incapable of.
Lately I have been meditating so that I can attempt to accept the fact that as long as I have my dog, there will be dog hair in my life. I breathe and tell myself to let go, to embrace things as they are. Accept the hair, accept the hair, accept the hair. But almost always in the middle of my meditation, I will open one eye and look around. I will see dog hair on my lotus-crossed knees, on my meditation cushion and in the corners of the room. I will begin to feel that familiar aggravation rise up in my chest and I tell myself to calm down and let the dog hair just be there. But of course I can’t. Of course I always need to get up, go grab the broom and the vacuum and clean up the dog hair.