Lay Buddhism #3

Groggy. So fucking groggy!

The alarm rings, ignorant of all the atrocities it’s committed throughout the days. “Gotta pee!” the bladder chimes in. “Gotta pee! Gotta pee! Pee! Peeeee!.”

I sit up and hack out whatever strange substance accumulated in my bone dry airways throughout the night (day… I’m a nightwalker). I’m pretty sure I hear it smack against a nearby wall and see few plumes of dust radiate from my mouth.

Deep breath in… deep breath out. Just this… Just like this.

I swing my legs onto the floor and stand up in a haphazard imitation of human agility. I ponder throwing my psychotic cellphone across the room, but hit the ALARM OFF button instead.

Its madness vacates the moment, the whir of the air cleaner and my own whistling nostrils remain. I walk limp down the ancient stairs and see to my whining bladder. “Peeeeeee!!!”

From the second we wake up, to the time we slip back into oblivion 16 – 18 hours later, the world is a fuckin’ asshole. Pressing on the senses, making outrageous demands like, “Put your clothes on.” Put my clothes on… why don’t ya just ask me to climb Everest while you’re at it?

But the coffee’s hot, black, and bitter and the shower steams up the mirrors. Which is nice because I have no urge to see that weirdo reflected in them anyway. The 20 minute drive to work is quiet, and the night obscures all the Illinois flatlands undressed by the autumn harvest.

At work, the night begins with a meeting that usually has little to do with me, but I’m still obligated to be there. The night really starts at around 10:10 when, with a dust mop in hand, I walk the aisles, sweeping up the day’s dependent arisings.

I’m a janitor, you see. A decent job for a Buddhist, one you could find in any old monastery or Zendo as well. But there are no Buddha statues in my monastery: there are racks and racks of useless crap made by third world hands. Flown across seas and nations, shipped down miles and miles of interstate.

I work on the frontlines of the Consumer Wars, cleaning up the battlefield so that it can seem fresh and unadulterated for the battle of the new day.

No, I don’t consider it Right Livelihood. But it’s one of the few solid sources of livelihood in this part of the state. Like most people, I didn’t choose the job—my bank account did. And the roster was already so full that a Bachelors of Science couldn’t even land me a job higher than toilet cleaner.

“But it’s alright,” I talk myself down. “It’s alright, dude. Fade into the present. Fade into the present. Faaaaade…”

The present is nothing but sensation. Or, in Buddhist lingo, nothing but consciousness. The swishing sounds of the dust mop, the beaming white of cast off crumples of paper; the cadences of distant music echoing from the speakers overhead.

It’s not so bad, and it’s terrible. Completely satisfied, and completely repulsed I work through the shift. At home, I neglect my beloved cat Zoe in favor of spewing nonsense in this blog, in articles, and on social media. I’ve stepped from my paying job into my payless profession.


It’s safe to say, I’d be dead without Buddhism.

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