Once upon a time, when I was a kid around age 12 or 13, on a beautiful summer day with the forever memorable sound of cicadas humming away in Highland Park, Illinois, my mother came into my upstairs bedroom unannounced (as she had a penchant for doing) and said in a clearly annoyed/critical/questioning tone of voice, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING??” I was sitting in the soft tweed upholstered rocking armchair (the only comfortable piece of furniture in my room that I shared with my “goody-two-shoes” older brother Neal) rocking and spinning around lazily (I think it was a Lazy Boy recliner). I cautiously answered, “I’m uh… doing nothing.” I remember her looking at me in a peculiar way that expressed equal parts confusion and parental disdain. She shook her head ever so slightly and continued towards my clothes dresser where she then proceeded to engage in a semi-predictable Oedipal Jewish mother ritual. In this sociocultural sacrament she would noisily “rustle around” in my drawer folding and refolding, arranging and rearranging my small to medium size Fruit of the Looms (white t-shirts and underwear) until her maternal compulsion mysteriously subsided….and then would disappear from the room, always closing the mirror-backed bedroom door behind her in a certain way that seemed to subliminally whisper, “See, I’m giving you your blessed “privacy” and “personal freedom”….but you really have none buster….so GET UP and DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE!!!” This incident and memory trace reappears in my subconscious mind quite often. Not only do I notice that my mother was an acclaimed Zen master of dual-opposing messages (considered by some to be a psychological risk factor for schizophrenia and certain personality disorders) but she also challenged me to solve the Buddhist riddle known as dualistic thinking. For that I thank her very much…..altho I beg off on the schizophrenia part having enough inherited risk, psychological problems and emotional issues as it is. I also distinctly remember that it felt kinda GOOD to see my mother leave my room without having scored any lasting parental criticism points. In Chicago Blackhawks hockey language that would sound somewhat like “A SHOT AND A SAVE by the goalie Glenn Hall/Tony Esposito!!” Like Carlos Castenada, I had found my “power spot” by doing nothing and by not engaging with the dark hidden forces or unconscious negative energies that tend to over define our egos, our identities, and our self-worth on this material plane of existence. Translation: My mother was both a loving and disapproving Jewish mother as well as a strict Zen master and symbolic Mexican/Native-American “bruja”, a sorceress, witch, and teacher in the mystical tradition of Yaqui magic and self-actualization). All of that and that’s not even mentioning her astonishing almond, cinnamon and ice cream mondel brot (mondel bread biscotti) pastries….the recipe of which is now kept in an undisclosed sealed vault somewhere to this very day.
If dualistic thinking is generally defined as a mind caught neurotically and/or anxiously between polar opposites and Buddhism seeks to transcend such forms of human suffering and mental illusions, then perhaps I now have a much better idea as to what I was actually “doing” on that Lazy Boy rocking chair in my mid 60’s plaid and madras patterned bedroom (with matching twin plaid and madras bed covers) on a warm summers day so very long ago. I was in fact DOING NOTHING, but i didn’t realize until now that I was doing nothing effortlessly and purposefully. And in so doing, I was working on becoming a mindful and consciously lazy adult human being. Of course I was also beginning to practice the stealthy art of adolescent multi-tasking by being both lazy and passive-aggressive at the same time. Two extra Bobby Hull/Stan Mikita Chicago Blackhawks slapshot goals for me. “Shot and a SCORE!!!”