Zen Spot #23 — Mindfulness, meditation and the edge of somewhere January 24, 2018 00:15

Interdependence is a weird thing 

I sometimes struggle with compassion. Making an active decision to do so helps me truly connect with the people around me. Maybe I'm not alone. Perhaps most people need to make a similar decision. Many seem to respond instinctively with kindness. 

In my youth, anger was my first reaction to many circumstances. A broken stick, a cracked dish and a splatter of paint were sometimes left behind. Anger and compassion are not opposites.

Washington Avenue and 5th Street

In Philadelphia, most neighborhoods have at least one park that takes up an entire city block. More than two hundred freckle the city. Most are square and flat, with an eighteen inch concrete curb between the sidewalk and the lawn that runs the entire perimeter. Diagonal sidewalks often crisscross from corner to corner. Friends, lovers, kids and neighbors stretch out, lie down, relax, play dominoes and picnic in good weather.


The sun was bright. I was walking back to my car after visiting a spring flea market that took up every available inch of the park. It warmed the north side of the street but hung low enough in the sky to blind you when walking west. I was looking down — more at the sidewalk than the horizon —when I stepped on a sagging, spiderweb shadow. Instantly, I looked up.


A mangled, rusted basketball hoop — without a backboard — hung from a telephone pole. The net was filthy, droopy, and frozen in place like cold pizza cheese. In a high wind, it wouldn’t budge. Screwed to the pole with enough strength to hold it in place, but not enough to endure the force required to pretzel the rim, the pretzeled rim took place some time before the screwing took place. 

In some parts of the city, in cloistered enclaves, totems are placed at the edges. Sneakers hanging from telephone wires, wall tags and street fashion add to the boundaries. Flags, food trucks, murals and boutiques, too. 

It occurred to me that the hoop marked the edge of somewhere.

Facing north

I sat with my back against the north-facing half of the telephone pole. The rim was behind me. I closed my eyes, slowed my breathing, listened to the sounds of the park, felt the sun over my shoulder and spent a few minutes in quiet contemplation -- at the edge of somewhere.

Sometimes I'm lucky.

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.

Invented by DharmaMechanic