Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist


Today Zen Master, Zen Mum and I went for an early morning walk, trying to get in our 2-mile daily quota of exercise before the humidity and heat moved in.  Baltimore was projected to reach 94 degrees.

We usually do a circuit around our neighborhood.  Five minutes into the walk, Zen Mum begins to drag her feet and sweats beads.  Ten minutes into the walk, Zen Master takes off his white T-shirt, clad only in his dark gray shorts that stop at the top of his knees.  I’m remembering the one instruction that’s stuck in my brain from my Tai Chi instructor:  breathe in the flower (INHALE), blow out the candle (EXHALE).

In the time we made the 2-mile circuit:

  • We waved and smiled at neighbors and passersby.  We asked one neighbor how his wife was doing because recently she had foot surgery and hasn’t been seen since.  She’s fine.
  • A Raimondi florist delivery truck stopped by a townhouse to drop off a basket of beautiful flowers.  Hopefully they’re celebrating a happy occasion.
  •  We observed a dead locus lying on its back on the sidewalk.  Eww.
  •  I saw a car slow down to chuck a pair of used socks out the window before driving away.  What’s up with that?
  •  We passed a couple of cul-de-sacs hosting yard sales.
  •  I observed a rolly-polly on the sidewalk.  I don’t know the technical name for this centipede or caterpillar thing but I know that if you poked it, it would curl its body into a tight ball and roll away.

At our half-way mark, we saw a man on the street, approaching us from the opposite direction.  He was an older gentleman with short snowy white hair, wearing a white t-shirt and gray sweat pants.  On his feet were black roller blades, and he was striding toward us.  He was fluid in his movements, graceful in motion and steps.  We watched as he made the left turn at the stop sign, he passing us without so much as a sound from him or his roller blades.  The man glided in that turn, no movements wasted – he just flowed. 

Until he hit the slight incline in the middle of that street.  We watched as he crouched a bit and put more effort into the climb, showing grit and determination to get to the top.  It was either that or just topple over on the street or worse yet, slide backwards down the way he came.  Uh oh.

But he conquered that incline.  We watched as he reached the end of that street and glided out of sight without a backward glance.

That’s what I want to be when I grow up. 

Fluid.  Graceful.  Gritty.

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