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A number of people are at the Bar, drinking in the intoxicating computer savoir faire. On my left is a sales counter. Everyone seems to know who they are and what they want—purposeful, savvy, competent, hip—and isn’t it exciting? Perhaps they’re as clueless as me, but I’m starting to feel very small and out of place. I turn away from the counter toward the middle of the store where there are freestanding product display cases. I can’t tell what any of the products are, and having long forgotten what I’m doing here, I’m feeling bereft and out of place.

A woman with a name badge approaches me. With an easy, reassuring smile, she asks if she can help. “I don’t know,” I confess, “I’ve gotten overwhelmed with all the energy in the store, and I’m feeling small and scared.”

Cheerfully she inquires, “Have you tried meditation?”

I may be overwhelmed, but I’m not about to admit that I’ve been meditating for nearly forty-five years—apparently to no avail, or this just wouldn’t be happening to me! Clearly I’m a failure at meditation, because by now, by golly, I ought to be Master of the Universe! And if not the whole wide universe, at least master of my own objectionable feelings: Edward, are you still getting overwhelmed? You might want to admit what a failure you are and try harder in the future. Meditate more, and life will not be so impossible.

“A little,” I confess. “How about you?”

“Yes,” she says with a rush of confidence. “I’ve been meditating for almost three years.”

“Really? And how do you like it?”

“Oh, I just love it,” she beams. “It’s made all the difference, and I have such a wonderful teacher.”

“Really? A meditation teacher here in Marin County?”

After hearing about her wonderful teacher and choking down her encouragement to do more meditation, I excuse myself, saying, “Thank you for telling me about your meditation practice. I think I need to go home and think more carefully about what I want.” She may have thought I was talking about what I really wanted in my life—perhaps more meditation? But I was talking about calling in reinforcements.

Calvin laughs when I tell him about my Apple experience. “Ed, you’re a meditation teacher, not a techie. Let me help you get what you need.”

Shortly after this, Calvin’s blessing on my ThinkPad apparently expires and I really do need a new computer, so he arranges to meet me outside the Mac store. “Now Ed,” he says, “before we go in, let’s sit down on the bench and think carefully about what you want so we can focus on that and get in and get out.”

“Okay.”

Beautiful women are strolling by, so while we’re talking, my eyes wander from time to time, following the attractively dressed bodies: tight jeans, low-slung belts, flash-of-color scarves. Then I start reflecting that the women are not themselves beautiful—they just walk around looking beautiful: “You do like my look, don’t you? It’s a good one, isn’t it?” Beyond their look, I wonder who’s there? Not much in the way of clues. What’s clear, though, and they don’t need to say it, is that “it’s not for you, old man.” Life is basically impossible. You do it every day.

Calvin’s getting our list together: computer, modem for my dial-up. “Do you want a service policy? Probably not. How about an iPod—you could use it in your car, and I’ll help you get it set up.”

“Sure,” I say, “as long as I’m getting an Apple computer, I’ll get an iPod. I want one in that hot purple-pink.”

Calm as can be, somewhat deadpan, Calvin says, “Wow, you’re really getting into this shopping stuff, aren’t you Ed?”

I’m tempted to tell Calvin my meditation must be going better, but I shrug. Feeling confident with him by my side, I head into the store.


From the May 2011 issue of the Shambhala Sun. See the magazine for more or click here to browse the entire issue online.

Illustration by Andre Slob.





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