Zen Spot #154 - Mindfulness, meditation and transitioning to consciousness in a city I'd never visited. January 21, 2015 17:32

This week, a man walked by wearing a throwback Pittsburgh Pirates baseball jersey and cap. In Philadelphia, that's a rare site. Had he been just wearing the cap or the shirt, he'd have blended into the landscape like any chameleon or rabid fan. The combination - the choice to fly the skull and crossbones - demonstrated passion and knowledge. 

Tall, thin, with long graying dreadlocks, he was old enough to be a witness to the sentient force that prompted the gestation of my consciousness. In fact, as a young man, on any road trip to Pittsburgh, he may have played witness to a baseball player of epic proportion. If not, greatness and passion was delivered, in black and white, to his home, by rabbit ears, when the Pirates visited South Philadelphia. I knew, before I saw the back of his jersey, that the number 21 would appear. Not 8. Not 35. Not 22.

Number 21.

Roberto. Clemente.

Roberto was my favorite baseball player as a kid. I have no explanation why. He played in a town so far away from my home that it might as well have been in China.  No memory exists about when I first read his name. He faded into my consciousness from nowhere and for no reason. 

His contemporaries included Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Carl Yastrezemski, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and many other Hall-of-Fame players. In Philadelphia, at the time, Steve Carlton, Larry Bowa, Tim McCarver and Mike Schmidt were starters and I heard their names mentioned every night on the news. In a sports-mad town, they couldn't be missed. Yet, for some reason, I chose Roberto.

The unexplainable weirdness of memory

My first memory, as a human being, is from when I was 18 months old. Few people believe me but my mother confirms my recollection. I was walking down a hallway in a boarding house in Wildwood New Jersey with my mother. The experience faded in and out. I don't know what happened just before and don't really remember much else until going to kindergarten just before I was five years old. From that point on, I was aware that I was alive. 

Somewhere between my first year of school in 1967, and 1971, something happened that brought Clemente into my life in a way that connected with me on a visceral level.  As I learned to read, I read everything I could find about baseball, but I'm certain there was nothing that I could read, until  at least 1971, that would have communicated Clemente's presence much less his greatness as a baseball player. No family members were from Pittsburgh nor felt any affinity for a player other than those that played at 21st and Lehigh Avenue or in South Philadelphia.

Those that bled, bled red.

The unexplainable weirdness of consciousness

The idea of being and becoming was conceived, I believe, by Heraclitus. If I've learned nothing else in this lifetime, I've come to understand that any belief I have of consciousness in the the moment will, very likely, be disabused by the reality of a moment in the future. Despite a relentless effort to learn and be present, it's been proven to me, countless times, that evolution and "becoming" are the only constant, reliable forces in life. 

Pursuant to this point, while I often remember the forces and ideas and contexts that comprise the variables in any equation of the moment, it's clear to me that there is no beginning, middle and end to anything.

At some point, in this life or the next, Roberto will fade away, just like he faded in, without explanation, as a result of my being and becoming.

And, I think that's pretty cool.

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About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?