Siddhārtha sat in the corner, comfortably meditating on a twenty by twenty inch square cut artificial turf. He’d been accustomed to doing his meditation outside, atop moist dirt, where he oft felt the slight sensation of ground insects burrowing beneath and between his toes and thighs. Somewhere inside himself, he missed the outdoors and the real dirt that rested against his black as stone exterior. He tried not to think about it too much, although he accepted that he had this desire. Long ago he uncovered deep within that it was normal, basically human, to long for something else, something more. But he knew that with longing also came suffering. This is why he came to eternally meditate; to stay in the moment and extricate himself from weighty cravings.
Thirteen years ago Siddhārtha was sitting in a beautiful garden, filled with carefully carved stone figures, exotic and expertly grown flowers, and stunningly refurbished wooden seating. He was content. It was a peaceful environment. Then he was singled out and chosen. His meditation would continue elsewhere, in another garden. Although it took him some time, Siddhārtha eventually came to appreciate his new home. He now sat on the damp soil of a sloped hill, looking across a pebble graveled backyard, and into a pond filled with fish. Every so often an older man would come out and attend to the yard. He’d feed the fish, check on the electric line surrounding the pond (used often in vain to keep the raccoons from fishing), and water various flowers around the yard. Siddhārtha liked it best when this man would prune the roses beside him. The attention he paid to the cutting was soothing. Through this minute exercise, Siddhārtha could tell that the old man found enlightenment in everyday activities. It was inspiring. He had a kinship with this man.
One day the old man’s visits ended. Siddhārtha knew he would never be coming back. For a time, sadness swept over his psyche. He tried to rid himself of the longing for times past, but he found no such relief. Months past, and the feeling faded, as did his stone exterior. Turquoise rust tattooed his nooks and crannies. The hair atop his head turned to white. A day nearly five years later Siddhārtha peeked through the window into the home he’d known now for thirteen years. There he saw the old man’s widow, and only her. The furniture and decorations were now gone. She clutched her walker and surveyed what once was. Soon a younger woman came into view. She put her hand silently and softly on the widow’s shoulder.
I returned to my apartment in the middle of the afternoon on Sunday. After the arrival ritual of setting my keys, phone, and wallet beside the black globe on my bedside table, I sat myself on the rug in the center of the room and began to think. Five with no returns so far.
Something inside told me I should not be counting my dates, but another part of me needed to count to keep in perspective that five dates in the course of four months was significant, considering there had only been one in the prior sixty. The date had gone as well as it could have. It was pleasant, but I just didn’t feel anything, not a spark. I shifted my body and turned toward the meditating stone Buddha I’d placed in the corner of the room. I began to think about the core beliefs in Buddhism and how they could help me cope with my current predicament. Craving. I craved for something more, someone more to fill what I perceived to be an empty space. Applying Buddhist thought, I wondered: was this an empty space that needed to be filled or could I transform it into a space of satisfying calm? In love and romance, can less be more?
My phone buzzed several times while I sat in contemplation. Friends were texting me, wanting to know how things had went. I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer them. Later that night at work I spoke to a friend about my date. I asked her if I was crazy, because everything went smoothly, but I still found myself disinterested. She assured me my feelings were normal and that I shouldn’t settle on someone that does not spark overwhelming feelings inside me. Settling for less is not going to get you the type of more you are looking for, she told me.
“Summer lovin’, had me a blast. Summer lovin’ happened so fast.” The voices of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John drew my attention while working on the sales-floor. “Summer days driftin’ away, to uh-oh those summer nights.” I sighed incessantly at the thought of it. Screw Buddha’s teachings, less is not more. My thoughts turned to my friends, as though they were singing the chorus. “Tell me more, tell me more, did you get very far?” I remembered a conversation I had with a family member earlier on in the week while on a hike in Saratoga. She mentioned that the great thing about having kids, and grandkids, is that you get to relive life’s moments through them. You get to see every exciting, enthralling detail again through their eyes, she told me. Even though I am far from being the son of any of my friends, I couldn’t help but think that my friends were reliving their first romances and first moments of romances through my new endeavors. That is why they demanded “tell me more, tell me more.”As the song reached its apex, so did my emotions. “It turned colder, that’s where it ends. So I told her we’d still be friends. Then we made our true love vow. Wonder what she’s doin’ now. Summer dreams ripped at the seams, but oh, those summer nights.” I longed for the lyrics to be my reality. My friends demanded one last elongated time (with a clear longing for a true happy ending) “Tell me more, tell me more.”
For Siddhārtha, thirty days of uninterrupted meditation followed after the widow left her house. On the thirty-first day, the widow’s grandson pulled up in his silver ’04 Toyota Camry. A studio in San Francisco lay on Siddhārtha’s horizon. Another rebirth was at hand.