The Middle Way

Zen Spot #79 — Mindfulness, meditation and the tipping point for a ruined relic February 4, 2018 00:05

God’s country feels different

Game hunting is a religion in central Pennsylvania. Deer especially. Fathers pass rifles and dogma down to daughters and sons. The sound of a bullet searing the atmosphere after leaving a barrel is omnipresent at certain times. One knows that sound as instinctively as one knows the subtle change in a mother’s tone of voice when a spoken or unspoken rule has been broken. 

Perhaps death lies at the conclusion of the searing. I don’t live in god’s country, but family does.

The absurdity of strapping a dead deer to the hood of a car

A deer stand allows a hunter to quietly sit about fifteen feet up in the air, either leaning against the trunk of a tree or in an enclosed turret, to wait for deer to stroll by. Sipping coffee and eating a sandwich, the predator's cross-hairs become easy to fill. Not my cup of tea but there is a meditative comparison to be made to all but the pulling of the trigger.

Not everybody owns a pick up truck or an SUV with roof rack. So, in god’s country, during deer season, it’s not uncommon to see a dead deer strapped to the hood of a large sedan. Antlers searing the atmosphere at 70 mph. Science fiction made fact. The dead eyes are terrifying. Fellini, sending a clown, juggling bowling pins, while riding a unicycle, through the frame of two actors filming a courtroom drama, couldn’t conceive of a vision more confusing for me.

The chemical need

Many hunters sleep in cabins after a day sitting in a deer stand. Sometimes they rent rooms in motels. Motels for hunters — with deer on the wall paper and antlers for toilet paper rolls. Taxidermy. Buck knives to cut your meat in the attached diner. Hooves to hang your hat on. 

The more expensive lodges have fake deer sculptures sitting on their roofs or on their lawns, next to the neon signs, designed to draw in the weary.

Teenagers want to blow stuff up while their fathers sleep. That which won’t explode, they want to knock over. There is a chemical in abundance in the brains of adolescent boys incessantly prompting, at a high volume, to knock stuff over and blow it up.

Everything dies

Deer die. Motels die. The relic shown in the photo above lies on the front lawn of an establishment that was laid to rest. I stopped in the parking lot for a moment to stretch my legs and get my bearings. A concrete deer, laying on its side, with rebar for legs, is near as eerie as a dead deer strapped to the hood of a car.

The grass was good

When I am most uncomfortable, it helps to stop and try to be mindful — to take a breath, listen to the air, the ambient sound, the trees or the traffic. To look at the clouds move. To close my eyes. To feel the sun.

To pursue the tipping point — that precise point in the time-space continuum between the relic standing on its base and falling to the ground, as a human being intercedes. To pursue the moment when the moment is no longer being pursued.

Fifteen years old

I took the picture above in 2017. The story was written from the perspective of me as a teenager--when mindfulness was nowhere to found.


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

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?