Professing * Reflecting

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Eastbound and down

Do you know how sometimes someone mentions something to you--something small, random, interesting, funny, even profound that breaks the din of incoming mental chatter for a moment but is ultimately no more or less remarkable than other tidbits--and then suddenly that something starts to appear everywhere? You begin to run across it for no reason whatsoever in your reading and conversations. References to it multiply exponentially over a very short period of time. Because of your sudden and sustained exposure to it, your knowledge of it increases pretty much by osmosis.

Two of these somethings have popped into my life recently: Buddhism (especially in relation to Pema Chödrön) and truck driving. What's more, because they appeared at about the same time, they seem somehow connected to me.

It's not like I have just discovered Buddhist ideas. I've read a little here and there. I've known (in the casual and in the Biblical senses) those who have seriously studied or practiced some form of it. I came across a Pema Chödrön quotation on a blog a couple of months ago and suddenly I am finding books by her in my study that I never knew I owned, I am hearing people on the subway referencing her, and I am finding her words on everything from junk mail to bumper stickers. I know that part of this is just because it's new on my radar, so I am sensitized to any mention of it. Still.

Truck driving has always been part of my life in that my father drove trucks before he joined the military, went to college on the G.I. Bill, and then started a family and an engineering career. Many of the men in his very large family were and are truckdrivers, including my grandfather's twin brothers and their sons and grandsons. It was this conversation and the decision to top the WWMD (What Will Medusa Do if she doesn't get tenure) career list with "trucker" that opened the floodgates on trucking references.

What does it all mean?? Because I am thinking it means something, and that in itself is remarkable when I think about it. Not so long ago I had reached a kind of extreme limit of cynicism** in which I was finding myself not believing in anything and, what's worse, not feeling the romantic mourning for ideals lost that I believe is part and parcel of the cynic's mindset. Now I apparently believe in the wisdom of the Buddha and the big rigs. It's a start.

**Or, in common parlance, severe depression



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