Zen Spot #206 - Mindfulness, meditation and searching for another brother's voice September 2, 2018 00:00

Not eidetic

My greatest gift is my ability to listen. I remember oral discussions vividly. Forty years after the fact, I can remember the exact words used in specific conversations. My visual memory is far above average but not nearly as sharp as my ability to bank the exact language used in a conversation. That said, my ability to fail in recalling the written word borders on the absurd.

Ironically, my reputation for having an awful memory in matters of the mundane is well deserved. The disparity? I have to be listening to a conversation to remember the language used — and often I don’t listen. I listen when listening counts.

Time and geometry

If one is blessed, one’s life trajectory intersects with the life trajectory of brothers and sisters with whom one does not share a mother. Sometimes decades pass with regular contact. At other times, the brotherhood is fleeting, but a brotherhood nonetheless.

I have been blessed many times.

A brother’s voice

To have a brother is to have someone with whom to wrestle — physically, psychically, metaphorically, meta-physically and intellectually. Because of my memory and ability to listen, it can be like they are standing right next to me long after they have departed my presence. In two cases, decades have passed since I last stood in their shadow, or they in mine, but their respective voices are as present as the laptop on which I am writing this essay. 


He showed up at a low point, having been at the same low point twenty years before. Contorting a mixture of compassion and blunt wisdom, he may have saved my life. Perhaps the wisest thing said: “Sometimes you need to just lay on the sidewalk and bleed for a little while.” Where the Buddha’s voice is light as a feather, Michael’s is a cop’s nightstick kneading pound cake dough. Think a peppered Patrick Warburton combined with an exasperated Clancy Brown.


My internal monologue is often not my own. Ricky’s is the voice of my conscience. Sometimes we discuss and debate issues, but he always wins. It helps that his humor never fails to make me smile — I guess that means that the ability to make myself smile always resides within. His voice is equal parts David Byrne, Warren Buffet and Bugs Bunny.


I made him laugh. My madness was a weird elixir. Not sure what he taught me, which means that his voice probably wrapped my soul in a warm blanket. Imagine Herman Munster’s laugh launching from Brad Pitt’s face.


While my friends, in one way or another, may have bestowed the title of enigma on me, Jimmy owns the pathology. Exuding an understated charisma, he half-chews under-grunted monotone marbles of wisdom. His love is limited and unlimited at the same time. I can hear him telling me I should let someone else write this essay, making sure I get three quotes, then playing the contractors against each other.


My oldest friend, having known him since I was fourteen, we could not be more different. When standing next to him, I look like the drunken sailor that I no longer am, but will always be. My secrets are safe with him. He is steady in every conceivable manner. He is Clint Eastwood combined with Frank Sinatra.


He build things. Blood runs uphill sometimes. A finer man than me, despite having read from the same dog-eared, grease-stained instruction manual for the first eighteen years of our lives. A brother’s love lasts, changes and twists like a helix. It is a phoenix rising, a B-52 crashing, a cake baking, a dog chasing a runner and two toddlers hugging.

More than the sound of his voice, his aura makes an almost imperceptible noise that can only be heard when he stands still — and the sound comes from his hands. Akin to two conductors standing in front of the same orchestra, their physical structure identical, he and I could render the same music from the musicians whether standing next to each other or 1000 miles apart — mostly because of our knuckles. Yes, our knuckles. 


More time is spent alone as the years pass. Each brother is alive and well but our trajectories have changed, with each brother’s orbit still waiting to reach it furthest point from the sun. The silence can be deafening but offers the perfect opportunity to sit and embrace the quiet.

In a very good way. Ah, to be blessed.


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?