Skip to main content

Anger: Rage is Blinding

I was in the kitchen garden, the 2nd field, sowing purple vetch into a bed I had cleaned out for the season's end. Half way through, the farm manager asks me to run a set of irrigation; I'm annoyed; this is my life as an irrigator, on call plumber, always interrupted to manage water.

I head down to line 46 in the 4th field, a line that I have a history with. This line is an archaic dog eared type, so there's no real latch on each section of pipe to keep it together. It relies on pressure and water and gravity. And immediately, there is a blowout at the head.

Water spews like an angry wave, it's hard to get close to. I shut it down, open another line to relieve pressure, and see that we have a cluster fuck, despite the beautiful day. The beautiful blue sky, the rolling coastal hills, and our crops decorating the valley in dark green and red brocade.

I see that the dog ears have slipped, as usual, and this whole 200 ft line needs to be disconnected and reconnected if there is any hope of not letting thousands of gallons just flood the weeds and grass that grow on the main line.

The work is wet and heavy; pipe that's full of water doesn't want to move. I curse my way through. I notice I'm officially angry. I smile and relax into it for a moment. I finish, and turn the line back on. It's better, but not perfect, and of course I like perfect.

I start to fiddle with a converter piece that allows us to use this old archaic piece of shit. This transition piece has a pressure release sprinkler on it, followed quickly by another sprinkler, so it's two sprinkler heads within six inches of each other and it's difficult to turn them away from spraying me while I adjust the line.

Anger comes with failure again and I start trying to muscle the line into place. I forget about the sprinkler in my face, until one blasts me so hard I think I'm drowning, and my prescription sunglasses fly off into the 5 foot tall weeds. I think I actually grunt/scream. I'm fucking blind.

I'm so blind, it's hard to make out the rows. I see a farmer, which one I don't know, walking down the road. I call to her for help, because there's no way I'm going to find my glasses alone. She comes, we can't find them, so she leads me back to the tidy shed ( our main shed, the one with the alter, where we chant every morning ).

I'm devastated. I've gone from angry to sad. I feel loss. Those glasses were 200 dollars and on a 20 dollar a month stipend, there will be no replacing them. I'm doomed to squint with my fragile eye glasses until the spring, when I get a raise.

I walk blindly to lunch, trying to let go. It's not working.

Then, on the engawa of our Zendo, I see Grace, who is practicing walking, 5 years after a paralyzing accident on the golden gate. I start to cry. I'm such an asshole.

In these tears, the glasses vanish, line 46 is a distant memory, and I'm confronted with impermanence and the truth that we have no idea what's going on in any given moment.

And there is just 3 weeks left of the season, and soon, we'll fade into noble silence, the practice period, and the crew I have grown close to will transform.

This morning, doing prostrations in the dark, in front of Manjusri, I pray a little. I try and make my heart fresh, to just go down and come up with little commentary. It reminds me of swimming, it feels that good.

50 bells ring and off to work. Just show up, pay attention, tell the truth, and be open again.

Comments

  1. Beautiful. Wise. Honest. I cried just a little and you're not an asshole, just a human trying to improve an already perfect buddha.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I moved irrigation pipes in the local hayfields with I was a kid. Come to think of it , it was a pretty monastic job: up at 0400, done at 0800, then back at 1600 and working till 2000. Day in, day out. It was hard, wet work, cold in the morning and hot in the afternoon. I remember the bit about shoving the pipe in and getting it just right with a single smart snap... or you're screwed. (No dog-ears, at least; swing catches, like a small D-handle). Once the pipes fill with water that's coming at a gallon a second, you're done doing anything with them. So you've got one second to do it, hundreds of times a day.

    I also remember the psychic power I developed that told me, most times, when one of those fire-hose sprinkler heads was coming around my way.... and catching the ice-cold blast from a hundred feet below ground those times it didn't. Mild annoyance in 30-degree heat; freaking life-threatening in the 8-degree dark of 0400.

    Your article brought it all back to me. I wasn't a Zenner in those days, but it is a bit karmic, isn't it?

    Thanks for the post!

    Robin
    Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How To Become A Zen Monk (or die trying)

"Now, if you have decided to become a monk because you think that life in this world is too hard and bitter for you and you would prefer to rather live off other people's donations while drinking your tea - if you want to become a monk just to make a living, then the following is not for you." -Kosho Uchiyama
So you want to be a Zen monk or priest? Unsui, which means clouds and water? Good on ya. Me too. 
Having googled that very aspiration for the first time in 2003, I was convinced it was impossible. I'll admit I am as thick headed as they come. I was also resistant to meet some figure in a robe. I heard my father's voice when I begged him to get my fortune read in Jackson Square, New Orleans, "I'm not paying some fat asshole in a bathrobe to tell you lies." Instead, for the first four years of my Zen practice, I committed as little as possible to my local sangha, left when they started chanting, and never talked to the teacher. I was so unapproacha…

Boredom and Buddhism

To say I feel bored feels disrespectful. How could that be? I have a three month old daughter, I'm training for a demanding job in the temple, I'm a wilderness medic responding to incidents every 4 days or so, and I'm sewing my priest robes for ordination. And I have this sense of disinterest.

I have a few theories as to why I feel bored. One could be the natural come down from having the baby and becoming stable in our schedule. Another come down plays out in the adrenaline crash after responding to a medical emergency or the general up keep work I do at the temple when compared to fixing something crucial to operations. When I hear there's a fire in the area I'm pretty excited to be mobilized for stay and defend duty. I feel pretty guilty about that, too.

So I read Beyond Boredom and Depression by Ajahn Jagaro and I was reminded to be careful about looking outward by this passage:

So what is boredom? It is a subjective experience that occurs when the mind is not i…

Goodbye Green Gulch Sama! Hello Tassajara!

About two years ago I left Mid City Zen in New Orleans. I feared I was leaving something, and now I'm about to leave Green Gulch and that same fear has arisen. I imagined there was wealth, a sort of freedom, and a lot to "renounce."  I had a car (a fast one!), a playstation 3, many books, many articles of clothing, and as I look around our little cabin, that same perception has arisen- I have too much stuff! And I like it!

My book collection that I sold or gave away in New Orleans has somehow manifested out here. And I have quite the collection of farm hats and farm boots. Rubber ones, Redwings, Ropers, Bogs to the ankle, Bogs to the knee, a navy seal Solomon for the wet spring weather. Most of them are fit to throw away, glued back together and stitched with fishing line, and just so smelly, so smelly my wife won't let me keep them in the cabin, so I hide them all around Green Gulch.

So I started packing, and while that fear of renunciation has arisen, it's not …