November 12, 2021
– Sir, you try my patience.
– I don’t mind if I do. You must come over and try mine some time.
– Groucho Marx
Asher is almost ready to walk on his own. He loves to stroll around with somebody holding his hands. The kid is on the move. He can wander throughout the house, assisted by Karin or myself, for hours. Eventually, Asher tires himself out, but not before he tires us out. Asher is eleven months old. We are in our 60’s. His energy reserves are seemingly limitless. Ours are not.
Asher likes to wake up dark and early. Once he has a fresh diaper and a warm bottle, he is ready for action. I take the early shift with the boy, so Asher gets to try my patience first. He’s getting really good at it.
Well, this essay is actually supposed to be about walking meditation. During Zen practice, we mostly sit on a cushion to meditate. If the practice goes on for an extended amount of time, then we break up the sitting with a short period of walking meditation. We walk in a line around and around the meditation room for maybe ten minutes or so. To the casual observer this activity seems rather mindless. Actually, it can be mindful. It depends on what the walker is doing as he or she shuffles through the room. If the person lets their thoughts wander aimlessly, yes, it is a mindless thing to do. However, if the person focuses on their walking, paying attention to every detail, then it keeps them in the moment.
Holding Asher’s hands as he stumbles from place to place is a form of walking meditation. To keep him from tripping and/or falling, I have to pay close attention to his every step. As long as the boy is leading me around our house, I am alert and aware of everything that he is doing.
Asher loves to pull on electrical cords. His hands are swift and agile, and remarkably strong. He will snatch at the cord and immediately attempt to yank it from the outlet. I can’t be daydreaming when he passes near to the microwave. The cord on that device is his favorite. He will sometimes try to deceive me by passing by the microwave and then quickly turning back to grab the wire. He’s stealthy that way.
Our home is not completely childproof. I’m not sure that any home can be. We have hermetically sealed a number of the kitchen cabinets, but Asher always seems to find a door that will open for him.
“Asher! Leave the door closed! Don’t take out the plutonium!”
Asher likes to walk over by our two dogs. They are old, and they tend to lie on the couch snoozing. Asher will happily go up to Shocky, the border collie, and pull on the dog’s nose. Shocky shows great tolerance toward the little human. She will lick Asher’s hands, and then give him sloppy dog kisses. Eventually, Asher gets tired of being soaked in drool, and he moves on to other things.
There are three smooth stones on the coffee table. I don’t know where they came from, or why they are there, but Asher loves to walk to the table and play with them. He tries to put them into his mouth first. They don’t fit. Then he pounds them on the top of the table. The coffee table is old, and a few more nicks in it don’t matter much. He beats on the table for a few minutes, and then loses interest.
Asher takes a perverse pleasure in ripping the leaves off of house plants. I don’t know why that is. I just know that he likes to do that.
“Asher! Stop that! What did that geranium ever do to you?!”
Asher is attracted to my old stereo system. He has become quite adept at turning all the knobs, especially the one for volume control. He is fascinated by the turntable. He loves watching the vinyl go round and around. He greatly enjoys looking at all the album covers. Oddly enough, years ago, I used to buy records purely based on the quality of the album art. For instance, I liked the art on Disraeli Gears from Cream. Asher doesn’t much care for the music, but he likes the illustrations.
After a few hours, Asher slows down. His legs become wobbly. He attention wavers. Then he takes a nap.
Which is what he’s doing now.