Zen Spot #289 - Mindfulness, meditation, a vinyl 45, Mighty Mouse and a Saturday night in 1975 December 12, 2019 00:00

Studio 8H

I was seated on a shag carpet, in front of large television/stereo console made of real oak. The entire unit was six feet long, three feet high and two feet deep. With a nineteen inch color TV, two audio speakers, an AM/FM radio and a crappy turntable, it was a provincial relic that had been manufactured within five years. 

Ten friends and I got together to watch a new late night television comedy show that was purported to steal raw meat from the jaws of an alligator. There were samurais, Greek cheeseburgers, a plasticine doll destined to die a thousand deaths, an ignorant slut and a forgettable smoking priest—all broadcast live, four days short of my thirteenth birthday.

Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night.

The mind

I expected magic. I still expect magic. I want to believe there is a dimension to life that transcends the ordinary as if the seven billion people on the planet have collectively kept secret proof of life after death. 

Nobody set that expectation. I distilled it, alone, sometime between birth and that night. Perhaps it was the stories of Abraham and Moses that my family insisted were true and magic, both at the same time. 

My expectation has never been met, but it has been twisted occasionally. At the time, my mind was fertile, naive, cloistered and almost ordinary. In a world where kids three years younger than me rode the New York City subway by themselves, at all hours, I rode the school bus back and forth, went to bed at nine o’clock and did all my homework.

Everything was ordinary. Until Andy came along.

Here I come to save the day

Amidst a set of live skits written to be conventional and subversive, the camera faded onto an ordinarily unusual man standing next to a small phonograph. The weirdness was palpable from a hundred miles away. Too, it was inexplicable and uncomfortable. 

In the following minute, Andy Kaufman lip synced. 

To further describe the performance would be to minimize the transcendental oddity and ecstasy. Watch the clip — and remember that, at that time, only three television channels were broadcast and Walter Cronkite was an anchor on the evening news. Much of the world was still lived in black and white. 

And Andy lip synced. Talentless. Unfunny. Charlatan. Doofus. Awesome.

Josef Beuys meets Lenny Bruce. Mick Jagger weds Jack Nicklaus. Bukowski writes War and Peace

When he finished, my friends and I shook our heads, our mouths dropped and we were speechless. Andy turned the prism just enough to see the colors slightly outside the odd and usual spectrum. I’m not sure he saw the equation he’d written on the chalkboard. We saw it. We didn’t understand it, but we saw it. 

Andy. Zen? Maybe not.

There is that feeling of having completely cleared one’s mind — to have thoroughly erased the equation on the chalkboard— that reminds one there is something beyond the odd and usual spectrum. One can be talentless, unfunny, a charlatan, a doofus and awesome.

You have to know the equation exists before you can erase it. When you do, everything becomes ordinary. Clear and ordinary.


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?