Saturday, May 23, 2009

My father, Zen master? Zen yelling

After reading The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, I’ve begun to reinterpret my father’s behaviors. I’ve discovered that he was quite possibly a Zen master.

The Zen master in The Way of the Peaceful Warrior did not have a habit of smoking, but he occasionally smoked, and he thoroughly enjoyed it.

My father, the Zen master, did not have a habit of yelling. I cannot remember a time that my father ever yelled at me; however, he did occasionally yell, and he thoroughly enjoyed it.

The usual occasion of my father’s yelling involved sports officials. He came to one of my little league baseball games, but he was asked not to return. The umpires did not appreciate his Zen chants. They found both the content and the volume offensive.

My father complied with their request for his absence, and he instead practiced his art watching sports on TV. His usual invective usually involved the poor eyesight of those officiating the game.

“Are you blind?” was a typical shout, often accompanied with hand movements. He was in the moment!

My mother did not understand this form of Zen. She preferred the quiet pool sweeping meditations that my father performed. Although she thought the Zen of reading the paper took him too long, she never feared for my father’s heart during that exercise. She did seem to think he would give himself a heart attack yelling at the TV.

“You know, honey, that they can’t hear you,” she’d protest. “Don’t give yourself a heart attack.”

Actually, his verbal attacks on the officials were doing just the opposite. He thundered out his protests, and his bosom was still and content afterward. Sometimes he was so calmed after a sporting event that he would move directly into the Zen of napping in a chair.

My mother would protest this too, but he would always provide a retort: “Dear, I’m not sleeping. I’m only resting my eyes.”

And he could do that, because he was a Zen master.


  1. Hmm my dad just likes to yell in general. And at sports officials.
    It's just that I do that more in my games than he does....
    I have a funny picture of me doing just that...

    I guess many fathers are the same in that they love to yell at the TV....

  2. I have often reflected on the observation that my dad never yelled at me either, nor would he use any more than a hand spanking for corporal punishment, and he stopped doing even that from the time when I was ten, and he saw that it didn't hurt.
    The thing that was most effective, between me and my dad was that I could see his anger in his eyes. I swear that his brown eyes turned green when he was mad. I could never stand that.
    Since we are talking Zen, I might be pardoned for suggesting that the eyes turning green indicate the presence of dragon blood in the family and not Zen.

  3. Unless, of course, proper dragons practice Zen. Otherwise they certainly concealed their natures well.

  4. We the pieces: Maybe dads in general spend a lot of time keeping a lid on their emotions. Sporting events are a good, socially acceptable release. Some sports allow their players to yell: like softball. Not so much in say... surfing. ;-)

    Dennis: I think I used to become that green-eyed anger thing. I think I still do. Shhhh... (I heard recently that squinty eyes are also a Welsh trait... maybe it's a hint of dragon blood -- dragon's have squinty eyes too!)