My father may have been a Zen master. He never said so, but having recently read Way of the Peaceful Warrior, I’ve become suspect.
In a previous post, I told of my initiation Zen ivy trimming. Other lessons followed.
When I was in sixth grade, my parents upgraded our family home with a built-in swimming pool. It wasn’t exactly a Zen Koi pond, but it did provide a certain opportunity for meditation.
It was called: Vacuuming the Pool.
To my dad, this activity was an art form. He did it slowly, methodically, almost meditatively. I made the mistake of showing an interest.
“Looks like fun, doesn’t it.”
“Would you like to try it?”
And so the lessons began.
The set-up mechanics involved attaching a forty-five-foot piece of flexible tubing to rectangular device that fit on the end of a twenty-five foot pole. Once the tubing was secured and submerged, the loose end was plugged into the suction-end of the filtering system of the pool via the “skimmer”. Several valves were adjusted to maximize suction, and the meditative process began.
My father, the Zen master, calmly stroked the sides of the pool and its bottom with strong, firm, slow movements. He did not disturb the fine film of silt that lay on the bottom of the pool. He coaxed it quietly, silently, slowly into the vacuum’s head.
I was a poor student. I began well, but my performance deteriorated over time.
When the Master watched, I worked slowly, but soon I was trusted to perform the “meditation” independently, twice a week, unsupervised, after-school.
What took him an hour and a half, I completed in 30 minutes. I’m a fast meditator.
Where he coaxed, I corralled. I combined a brush and vacuum technique that violated the Rule of Slow, but I got the job done. Silly student that I was, I thought it was about the destination, not the journey.
I learned that lesson later.
Never the less, my father was content to let me repeat my twice-weekly attempts... for seven years.
He was very patient with me. Zen masters usually are.
“Did you vacuum the pool, Son?”
“Thank you, Son.”
“Do it again on Thursday.”
And so my lessons continued.