You’ve got up early when it’s quiet and serene, made a cup of coffee and sat down on your porch with your laptop in the coolness of the morning to take in the splendor of the rising sun while you slowly reply to the questions of the outside world. This is your first attempt to be mindful, to really try and put into practice the sermons of the great Zen teachers you’ve been reading and listening to on YouTube. You’re mindful of your own mindfulness, and as you reproach your ego for telling you you’re doing a great job, chuckling at this little joke the universe has decided to share, you don’t notice the light from your laptop screen has attracted a mosquito.
The parasitic little mosquito lands unseen on the wrist you’re using to hold your coffee mug, and promptly digs in to the feast under your skin. You have a vague sensation of discomfort and your coffee hand jerks slightly, but you’re distracted by a must-read article on your news feed and you don’t notice the blood-sucking critter, nor do you see the small drop of coffee that has spilled onto your space bar.
You teeter unknowingly on the edge of catastrophe, and then, while still sitting comfortably in your chair, fall headlong into the abyss.
Your wrist begins to itch. A lot. At first you scratch it half-heartedly, but this soon turns into a frenzied, four-nail digging that provides only temporary relief. Half-way through each sentence in response to an important email from a client, you have to stop typing and scratch. You lose your train of thought repeatedly.
In between seeing to the agitation of your epidermis and trying to construct a coherent paragraph, you’re also having to stop writing to move the cursor backwards and at times fairly hammer the spacebar to affect standard grammatical norms. This is extremely annoying as it is slowing you down even more and why won’t the thing just work, anyway?
Suddenly you realise your feet are overheating. You’ve got socks and slippers on, as is customary in the morning, but the sun is turning these into a sheepskin kiln and there is sweat between your toes. Just as you’re about to do something about this the dog runs past with the remote control in its mouth. You prepare to shout at it but now you really need the toilet. Caught between the call of nature and the summary destruction of an important piece of technology, sweating profusely at both ends, unable to work and not knowing how to proceed, inside you the clam pool becomes a torrid heaving sea and you break.
As the smoke clears the remote has been saved by the sudden appearance of the neighbour’s cat, your wrist has stopped itching, you’re dressed and ready for work as usual, and you’ll answer those emails later with no trouble. But the day is lost. All attempts at mindfulness are on hold as your bad mood propels you through the following hours with all the joy of a fly moving through treacle, resigned to the end and simply willing it to come.
You tried so hard, you really did. You were so proud of that effort, and you had such high hopes.
Somewhere, the Buddha laughs.