The girlfriend was having a rough morning today and ended up forgetting her necklace. It’s a sentimental thing from her dad and as we were walking I mentioned it which, sadly, only added to her stress. For the record this was not my intention.
Without hesitation I pulled off my own prayer beads, ones I’ve worn every day for over five years. She was reluctant to take them but shit, she clearly needed them far more than I do. She was worried something might happen to them at which point I just laughed since….
They’re just pieces of wood.
Hell, I don’t even know what kind of wood they’re made from or how many I have. They weren’t blessed by a lama or purified in a holy river, I bought em for $5 at a bead store in Bozeman Montana at a closing sale.
It’s more what they represent.
My Old Man was a robe wearing legit Zen master and I’ve got his prayer beads, along with his ashes in a safe, well fortified location. But they’re still just pieces of wood. Even he knew that.
While I’ve never taken precepts and refuge, I can’t help but practice what I learned. The beads are just a small reminder of those late nights drinking coffee and chain smoking around the Kitchen table. To try to practice compassion even when others are acting like assholes, to not act on impulse and to take responsibility for my actions and how they impact those around me. But the actual beads…they’re just pieces of wood, objects assigned a meaning.
I do feel naked.
For me, as much as I hate to admit it, the beads act as a kind of choke chain, preventing me from acting on my baseline instincts and reminding me to not be the racing asshole that I am by nature. They represent a choice that I made to try and find a better way to live. It’s weird to sit here right now without them around my neck. But they’re just fucking pieces of wood. It’s not like they ever stopped me from doing anything, they just reminded me that there’s often a much better way of doing things than my first reaction. Now that I don’t have them on I’m not going to work tonight thinking “I finally got rid of my beads, haha, woo-hoo, I can be a bigger douchebag than my stepfather”. No, I’m thinking I’m going to go rock out in the Kitchen and keep an eye on my phone in case my girl needs anything. Then I’ll get some coffee, smoke a joint and enjoy the walk home.
Happy holidays everyone, no matter how you celebrate. Let’s try to not be total dicks to each other and maybe just maybe do something cool for a stranger. Maybe there’s not a God and if that’s the case and we really are alone, we really need to start being a lot kinder to each other.