Tuesday, July 3, 2012
And Another Park Down The Hill....
This was the first park I visited while at the San Francisco Zen Center--it was a gorgeous crisp morning and I had slept well in my small corner room on the 3rd floor. I was in the mood for exploring.
As most people probably do, I simply stumbled upon the Page & Laguna Mini Park and wandered in. In deep morning shadows, it took a few moments for my eyes to adjust. I didn't feel entirely comfortable and wondered why. My intuitive sense seemed irrational, placed as the park was just off a busy street and nestled between two grand, well-kept Victorian homes.
I ventured down the path none the less, thinking this might be what it's like to live in a snail shell, venturing in a gentle spiral. The sunlight came through the trees in places, illuminating shade beds, and finally at the end of the path, a gorgeous tree encircled by a low wall and more shade plants. It was very much a secret mysterious place.
And I wasn't alone here.
Sitting on the wall around the tree was a young man wearing nothing more than a pair of tiny white shorts. He had his legs drawn up, arms around his knees, trying to keep warm, but he looked cold and miserable.
Our eyes met, and he turned away. I wasn't meant to see him.
When I come upon moments such as this, my mind makes instantaneous decisions about what I am experiencing and how to proceed. It's a part of what my ancestors have passed down to me, through millenia of adaptation and I don't ignore it.
But as a Buddhist, I also ask, What is this? and try to refrain from simply re-acting.
The young man was like a fallen angel. He was Peter Pan with no more mojo. He was a runaway, a drug addict, a jilted boy friend, someone's son. He was a motherless child.
I moved slowly back to the street, not wanting to make him imagine that he had repelled me, but honestly, the Page & Laguna Mini Park was all his that morning, and I was simply intruding. Perhaps I should have gone back to ask if he was OK, if there was something I could get him (like a pot of Ocean of Wisdom tea from Samovar!)
But just before I passed through the gate to the street, another young man walked quickly into the park, carrying a small bag from CVS down the hill. He was troubled, his mind on a mission.
Our eyes met, and it seemed as if so much passed between us--Yes, I have seen your friend. Is he alright?
I'm taking care of him, but I'm worried.
I don't know what is going to happen....
We smiled slightly at one another, but he hurried deeper into the park.