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The Clearest Delusional
By Tova Gabrielle
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Not rated by the Author.
an odd mental phenomena develops when people sit in long meditation retreats....
Howie, the teacher at a meditation retreat in Marin, told us a story about going off the deep end at a three month silent meditation retreat. After a spell of the typical 4AM to 9PM sits that one endures on Vipassana retreats, the mind invents its own crises and dramas. In his case, heíd became obsessed with the need to view a play-off football game and so convinced his teacher to let him take an overnight at a motel some 40 miles away, just to watch a game.
When I told Howie what a great story-teller he is, he said that people should regularly talk about their mental illnesses.
So hereís mine:
By day three of the five day silent retreat I couldnít stop looking for my wool poncho with the reindeers on it. The week had brought horrendous flooding and wind. When I didnít find it, I finally decided to let it go, or so I imagined.
Due to the no talking or contact with others rule, I'd come to look forward to one my alloted chats with the only person available for harmless intercourse: teacher Howie, and so, having missed our 9:30 PM check in due to my fatigue, I awoke abruptly at 11pm and thought about not only the poncho but my best tunic.
With a gasp, I realized that my best
dress was not where Iíd hung it!
Thatís it, I'd thought: I'm leaving.
What to do? I ended up doing what any self respecting yogi who wants to schmooze with a lovely and fun Jewish man in the middle of the night, would have done. I marched my poor self next door to the (24 hours open) office and looked up the number to call a staff person in case of an emergency.
"Someone is stealing from me," I reported.
"Iíll be right down, after I get dressed," says the good natured maintenance man.
Now when the nice ole' maintenance man shows up, I canít talk to just HIM about something This inappropriate of his retreat center. I donít want him to stress out over
the fact that what appears to be heaven, the one safe place left in our country, is no longer safe! I must speak toóHowie. Someone who can handle these upsets realities. He would want- would need--
to know! SO. Howie comes gliding over a few minutes later, non-ruffled. I tell him. "Howie, I KNOW when I'm delusional."
Somehow this yogi manages to keep a straight face. He even nods, "You seem very (very) clear."
"Well, I say, not missing a beat, I AM psychic." Oh I'm so impressive. Heís just going to go right home and
realize he married the wrong woman! "Oh yes," offers kind patient Howie, " I know a woman who also has the gift of seeing."
Things are going so smoothly. I am ready to forgive the stealing, my mother would be proud.
"Howie, I donít want you to do anything for me, even though it was my favorite garment in the world. And I am not attached to stuff, either," I say.
"Oh I can see that, you are absolutely free from greed," says he.
[I'm thinking: Yup, Howie, you really SEE me. Arenít you just moved
to tears? Iíve got him clutching his heart, no doubt.]
"Well. Could this possibly be tabled till morning?" he asks gently?
"Yes Howie, if you can help me 'hold it,' I can cope".... [Meaning "helping me bear my secret".]
"OH that is really noble, Tova," he defers.
My feathers are ruffled. "Well, Howie, itís also an opportunity for me to love my daughter, who would be distraught if I were to leave over this."
"Oh, how thoughtful, Tova," he adds.
"And, not only that, Howie, you know what? Why if that woman, and by the way I know JUST who it was, if she wants it that bad, she must NEED it. WHY her stealing is just another aspect of ME, a starving me. So let
her have it."
Boy if I aint the mother Teresa of the West.
"Well," sez Howie, "now that we will put this aside, just one thought: Maybe you have a touch of YOGI mind."
"Yes, where you get very very concentrated, you know?
Kinda like I did about the football game?"
"OH no, No, I would know. I'm very, well, very astute, very self-aware. Very self-monitoring. Very conscientious. In fact, Howie I even chided myself in the shower this morning for taking two handfuls of shampoo that someone left out.... It did seem they were abandoned. But you know, I'm so deep I interpret my own actions like some people interpret dreams: I said to myself, 'Why this is interesting Tova: Youíre stealing?' Well, maybe if you are stealing a little, itís because someone is stealing from you A LOT!"
"Wow, Tova, you are really very conscientious." Yes, mother would be proud!
"Now, just one more thing, Tova, can you check out if your dress is at home? Just in the point one-percent chance it is?"
"Yes but I don't have my housemate's number. I'd have to get the car keys from Swan to get my cell phone out of her car."
"I see," sez he. "I wonder how you can do that without breaking her silence.
"Well," sez I, "she is going to be in my check in group tomorrow with you and I can bring up my dilemma there?"
"OH NO, no, uh, I mean, well, I just think that, well maybe SHE might not understand. SHE might think you are imagining things."
"OH great point Howie, thanks, thatís very insightful of you. She does get LIKE THAT."
SO. Next morning we get a note from the management for my daughter, Swan to please bring the keys to office for mom who needs something out of the car. Fine. I am to post it for swan to see on the community bulletin board.
SO. I goes down there and WHO is standing there at the board but Swan. OK, divine intervention.
I post, she removes and reads.
SO. She is furious. This is what my insightful mind is telling me. Right. Well she must be, what is she doing? She is so angry, sez my delusional mind to myself that she is ripping up a cardboard Kleenex box to write me a nasty note on! Oh is she going to regret this when she finds out the truth. BUT. She
doesnít write the nasty note. NO. She folds up the box and puts it in the recycling bin.
HA. I know what sheís thinking. She will not write the note. Better. She will ignore the request. AHA. We leave with me only feet behind her. Now we both have kitchen duty. Is she going up the hill to get the keys? NOPE. Just as I suspected. Thatís it. Such disrespect. I'm furious. Well.
I enter the dining area behind her andówhatís this?
On the bulletin boardóthe keys with the nasty note tacked right behind them. I open it, "Mom, the keys
only work in the driverís side door."
Oh, thatís different. Hmmm.
Next. The phone call to my housemate: "Vicki, hi, could you please tell me if my black and white embroidered dress is
hanging behind the couch in my room?"
"What?!ÖAre you SURE?"
"Yes, the hand embroidered with the vines?"
I am speechless. Somehow I manage to wrap up the conversation though.
Now to face Howie. Maybe heíll just forget all about it. I see him outside the Meditation hall, and look down, fascinated by the grass at the moment we cross paths.
"So Tova, did you find out?"
"oh hi! uh, Yes, Howie. Good news.... I'm delusional."
"It was at home?" he asks sympathetic, but smiling.
"Uh huh, BUT, Howie the wool poncho hasnít shown up."
"Yes, Iím very worried about that," he bluffs, refusing to let me bum out on a retreat.
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|Reviewed by Ed Matlack
|Tova, isnt it wonderful to be dillusional, allowing insanity to overcome ones self? Seems we all have to do this every now and then...I certainly do as most of my writings seem to put forth, LOL! Please write more, I love your writings...Peace Thru Zen, ED|