H is for Humility. (And Homer.) / by vanessa

Rain! Finally! Okay, just a couple of drops on Saturday, and a few more today, but I'll take it.


Several weeks ago, on our Big Sur hike, my friend Nicole asked the question: If you could have one wish fulfilled, what would it be?

"Enlightenment", I answered hastily. Shit. Enlightenment?! That's not very 'enlightened' for chrissakes. Then Chanel said something really eloquent about an open heart or something. Dang. Good answer. These spiritual pop quizzes are brutal. But the truth is, it's what I felt, and feel, plebian as it may be. And of course, because I'm hiking w/ a bunch of yoga teachers, I get the academic response: "Dude, you already are." Which of course is THE paradox, a.k.a. a total pain in the ass.

Yeah, okay I get it -- we ALL are already *technically* enlightened and our journey is to remember that very thing. But you see, I'm a practical girl, and since I'm still busy worrying about my fat jeans being too tight, I figure that for all intents and purposes, I am no closer to remembering that I am enlightened (or whatever) than I am to fitting into those jeans.

So I find myself wondering what it looks like, anyway, to be enlightened. (As it happens, there's a t-shirt just for this moment.) If like Buddha was given the high hat by the waitress at Duke's who basically told him to get out of the way, rudely, would Buddha think she was a bitch? (She was.) Or if Buddha was late to yoga class because he was stuck in horrible LA traffic and then got scolded by the teacher for walking in and setting down his mat when she was in the middle of her soliloquy, would he feel embarrassed and annoyed? Oh I don't know. Then I think about Buddha sitting under the bodhi tree where after seven years of seeking truth, he woke up one day and cha-ching -- nirvana (not to be confused w/ the band). Is that how it works? One day I could either win the California State lottery or know the end to Suffering? It can't be that arbitrary, can it?

They say it's like the flip of a switch, from not knowing to knowing, darkness to light, struggling to freedom -- that there is always light and the only difference is letting it in. Sometimes I pretend that the switch has already been flipped and I already am. And then, for a few fleeting seconds, I feel that dropping of resistance, that gentle flow, the spiritual equivalent of hitting a tennis ball in exactly the right spot, only MUCH, much bigger, and I can feel, (albeit much too briefly for my liking), that I am indeed.