I put away the camera and set down the pebbles. Since yesterday I had been dying to try out some of the zen meditation techniques we had tried with the monk we had met in the morning. His monastery had made me uncomfortable and the meditation felt rushed, forced, insincere.
I had been walking all over Kyoto in a slightly bulimic attempt to engulf a few more crumbs of the loving little city. But I was done. I knew it. I went down to the river side, where I stopped two or three times a day over my “Kyotic” stay and (played?) ricochet(ed). I then took a few photos.
I put away the camera and set down the pebbles. I was now ready. I knelt by the water. Dug my knees and toes into the stony bank. Now what? Now breathe. Now count. I counted my breath. Stretched it, tuned it, sharpened it, as one would work a dull tool before approaching the lathe.
I had tried to get to a similar state in the monastery but to little avail. An old monk neck deep in what many still call tradition. Fear successfully muted the little irreverent Hugo inside of me, but little Hugo still managed to throw off what I hoped would be a revelation.
I never got to the lathe… I sharpened, sharpened, readied the tool, it was ready, but something was missing. I do not know what. I still don’t. On the other hand, as I opened my eyes, the landscape had a new glaze, a forest of stilts rose before me, carrying delicately the city’s fancy cafes. I was happy. I was grateful. I still do not fathom the purpose of meditation, I understand it is also a bit different for everyone, and that a certain skill is required, but my little half hour or methodical breathing had lifted me in some imperceptible way.
PS: the animation is a bit old, but appropriate 🙂