Zen Moments

John McManamy Health Guide
  • The other day was my day for Zen moments. I’m living 3,500 feet up in the mountains of what they call the back country of San Diego, where Zen moments come in abundant supply.

    But first I needed to attend to business. I had a newsletter to get out. My three days building up to “press time” equate roughly to an hour in Kiefer Sutherland’s day. I was expecting to be going full blast into the evening, but things went off without a hitch and I was unexpectedly through at about 2:30 in the afternoon.

    Time to unwind with a walk. I’m new to the neighborhood, so every little blade of grass looks different. Oops, we’re bordering a desert, here. No grass. Some stuff that may technically pass for grassy, but nothing that would require an investment in a lawn mower.
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    I peer left down into the valley below. My first Zen moment. The sun is already low over the peaks behind me, and I am in the shadows, but the grasslands – and I use the term grass very advisedly – below me and the peaks in the distance are bathed in brilliant light.

    I stop in at the local coffee shop for a coffee and muffin to go. I already know the proprietor by her first name. No impersonal urban Starbucks service out here. She heats my muffin for me and slices it into tasty morsels. Outside, I round the bend for another Zen moment. I’m in the sun on the valley floor now. The open space before me allows my mind to breathe. Not too far off, peaks and rock formations rise from the valley like great cathedrals. I sip my coffee, and munch on my muffin morsels, savoring the moment.

    Several Zen moments later I’m at the local library. The place is literally one room. Okay, technically there are walls, but I am willing to bet my life that Diana Ross’ walk-in closet is much larger. I introduce myself to the librarian and sign up for a card. This being the country, we get talking. Next thing I know, she invites me to give a talk. Here, in this little town out in the back country, I’m THE local author. Back in Princeton I had the likes of Joyce Carol Oates and Cornel West to contend with.

    On my way back, I stop at the general store. It’s a dogs and beans night for me. A friendly man behind the counter bags my goodies. Back outside, the sun has set behind the peaks and the temperature is dropping fast. I hurry my pace, only to stop dead in my tracks. Another Zen moment, a truly spectacular one. The entire valley below is now in the shadows, as are the peaks and rock formations. But in the distance, a steep summit catches what is left of the sun full broadside. The mountain appears to be radiating from the inside, a lustrous rosy glow that sharply contrasts with the cool hues of the darkened landscape.

    Thank you, God, I find myself saying. I am experiencing the perfect moment, in the moment. Later, I am sitting on a chair in the living room with a fire going on the wood stove, dogs and beans on my plate. My house mates are gone for the evening. It’s just me and the cats. I reach for my second dog, basking in the toasty heat, gazing contentedly into the dancing flames behind the glass. Life is good.
Published On: December 28, 2006