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.