It always starts with a girl. It really feels that way.
I’m a sophomore in college and I meet this girl, super cool- I mean everything about her is cool: Her family is cool – mom is a successful actor and some sort of enlightened being, her biological pops is a super cool successful photographer, and her step father is this awesome life coach/music guru.
And she says to me, “Do you meditate?”… and I don’t think, I say “Yeah, of course, I meditate. For sure, I meditate”
I have never meditated a day in my life. I didn’t know shit about meditating. For years, I used to spell mediate instead of meditate.
But I would have said yes to whatever she asked me – you like looking stupid, “Yea, I like looking stupid” … I couldn’t just say I did it, I told her, “I do it all the time, twice a day.”
I liked her. I wanted to be in the cool kids club.
So I started Wikipedia-ing. Trying to fake it till I made it. I could understand this idea of happiness, but that’s about where it ended, a conceptual understanding. To sit to be happy, it makes sense sort of. Practicing it, that’s a whole other story.
She would spend the night and we would wake up early to sit, which initially – is the fuckin worst, two minutes of anything else, please. But I go along with it, it gets easier, sort-of, easier to come up with excuses not to join her in her morning sit, “Oh, I’ll do it tonight” or, “After class”.
And then, she goes and gets me the gift of a silent retreat for my birthday.
That was my birthday gift, a silent retreat in Boston, Massachusetts. My first time to Boston, and I won’t be able to speak; this couldn’t be done in LA? She got me the plane ticket and everything. She was so excited for me. That was my gift- Quiet for 7 days.
I had no idea what I had gotten myself into but I couldn’t say, “No, thanks, maybe next time”… So we go, yeah, she was also attending.
p.s. This is her third silent retreat, she’s 20 years old. Just saying.
What’s a silent retreat like? Like being trapped in a phone booth with a crazy person. And that crazy person is you.
I figured it out, I had to, I thought I did – when not speaking, in a matter of seconds- you figure a lot of shit out and then you want to kill yourself… And then around day 1.5 it got really hard, I thought she was mad at me, because your mind makes up the most epic stories up when you’re not talking.
One girl woke up in the middle of the night, stole all the post it notes and put them on every piece of floor that creaked.
So I wrote her a letter and prison-secret-way passed it off like I was passing off a shank. She wrote one, passed it back, it became a thing. This happened for about one to two very long days. We are not following the rules.
All this note passing, us not being about us, led to a very quiet sex session. And now, she actually is mad at me, because I made this happen and she feels horrible.
I wasn’t built for it. I like to write everything down. I like to talk. I have tight hips…
I brought a jump rope to a silent retreat. Who does that? They can be loud. I got in trouble! At a silent retreat I got called out- the way a Zen Monk calls you out – very passive aggressive – mid morning sit I hear, “For the person jumping rope… Please stop.” Very Buddhist… I stopped jumping rope.
The thing I’ll always remember was my job, everyone had a job, and mine was washing dishes. I loved it. I could vibe with that. Something about cleaning up after the all shit I couldn’t keep in check made sense. It was the best part of my day. I felt as if I did that right.
It’s like day 3.5 now and I know I had to come up with a reason to like being there or I will lose my mind. So I tell myself, “I like meditating because it makes me a better actor.”
I am an actor. And meditating was an acting lesson. Be present. Be in the moment. Listen…. Yes, I could vibe with this. Very cool, I tell myself, “If I get good at this, I’m gonna be a better actor.” At that time, that’s what it was all about, I have six figures of student loan debt so I could go to a prestigious acting conservatory, because that’s what life is about, my craft, acting.
And the questions just keep on coming. And I think she hates me. I purposely have to put my eyes down to not make eye contact with her. All these stories and questions flooding your mind, How did I get here? What is spiritual? Not knowing thyself. Who am I? Extreme words are a crutch for the things between them say more. What is the good feeling we’re all seeking?
I think every action is designed for one goal – to quiet the noise, quiet the mother fucking noise. Whether its paying a bill, or making the money to pay a bill, or seeing a doctor, or ice cream, for a second its quieting the noise, for a second its all okay, and the noise just comes flooding back.
We broke up shortly after this retreat. Not speaking revealed our selves, our truth and inabilities. To say the least (no pun intended) we had a problem adjusting when words came back.
Why do I still meditate? I‘ve actually dedicated my life to it- to silent moments… Why? It’s hard, really hard – to even believe that just sitting quietly or silently or standing (cause you don’t need to be in lotus – because I still have tight hips), to believe it can quiet the noise for good. Quiet the noise.
To see clearly… That the person in the phone booth can be calm, can be happy, can be peaceful.
That girl, like every moment ever, changed my life. And I lied to her, I didn’t know better, and I’m so glad I did. That was the best birthday gift ever.
… I wrote this poem shortly after I left:
If we could never speak
Just bathe in each other’s silence, and all we ever did was write letters to each other, we would be unstoppable.
Finding a limit to the page – we’d say what needs to be said – nothing more, nothing less. We’d think before we wrote. We’d make it count. We’d want you to read it over and over and over again.
We’d sharpen our pencils with precision, we’d get daring, and we’d get so good we’d use pens so it’s permanent.
And when the ink just isn’t enough we’d peel back our wrist and scribe in blood, pouring our souls onto the page.
We would carve sentiments into the world.
If we could never speak, our skin would become the canvas for what we stand for, we wouldn’t be able to hide from the world; we would look directly into the rays of each other’s souls, heart penetrating, unable to see with our eyes we would yell fire and ice, and we would understand, we would touch and feel like we were designed to…
Our souls would become light, and we would stand there arms wide, screaming to the world… “Here I am, vulnerable, easy-to-read, read me, there’s room for you here…”
Peace and Blessings