Zen Spot #72 — Mindfulness, meditation and a barn behind an old friend’s house February 7, 2018 00:05


This barn dwarfs the property on which it sits — and the main house of those who own it. If a tractor is inside, it could barely make the turn when driving out the front door of the barn, on the other side, without destroying the the neighbor’s fence. The whole property is half an acre. Taken from my friend’s back door, this picture fairly represents three times the distance of the barn from the owner’s back door.

Hopelessly boarded to keep the groundhogs, possums, mice and foxes out, the interior must smell like a month of dead wet roses piled twenty feet high. Perhaps it is an ark waiting for the rest of the species. Perhaps I believe it’s a barn only because it’s painted red. I never asked the owner. Perhaps I don’t want to know because I like the idea of the ark. For the water to rise high enough to wash it away, the flood would extend for twenty-five miles.



Memory is a funny thing, the worst of which can spontaneously make a body and stomach contort while walking alone. The best of which brings a smile. That thing that no longer exists — time — holds the thoughts that bring the twists and wrinkles. Created to explain the sun rise, the tides, the delivery of a child and the death of an elder, time becomes a profound paradox when reading a Buddhist text. 

 So, if time doesn't exist, from where does the flood of memories arise?


The friend from whose backdoor I took the photo is a writer. An exceptional writer. His command of language, both written and verbal, is a gift the likes of which I have rarely experienced. With a razor-sharp acuity that almost never cuts, he tells stories of a simpler time woven with a stylish, button-up sophistication. Filled with carnal expression that is believed, somehow, to be less carnal than that taking place in the next car over at the drive-in, his tales are always that of a gentleman. 

He is old now. Very old. We discuss baseball, by telephone, almost every day, even during football season. The drop-top is long gone, as is the house with the neighboring ark. He intersperses points made about shortstops and losing streaks, with the details of a female companion from 60 years ago — an earring, perfume, a smile, the feel of a satin dress, the dignity of long white gloves.

I can tell by the nature of his voice when his face twists, is wrinkled or is smiling. He shares bad memories too. 


Not sure if I believe in the Ark. Not sure if I believe in the language that remembers the Ark. 

Language dies easily and, with it, every story that wasn’t written down before the storyteller dies. The written word dies more slowly —  but it is easily edited, perhaps one word at a time, every day for thousands of years, until the current story bears resemblance to the original only so much as memory will allow.

My friend twists, wrinkles and smiles less and less.

Memory, mindfulness and meditation, eventually, don’t allow. Perhaps we begin the next life — the next incarnation — before we leave this one. Perhaps his body is an Ark waiting for the flood.


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?