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Be Buddhist or Else

Occasionally we stray from our usual Poetry fare and instead opt for Long-Form installments. Enjoy this latest Featured Essay from guest contributor Cary Maya.

Essay | CARY MAYA

“Be Buddhist or else” – The Cosmos to me recently

A while ago the fingertips of my left hand froze to my left palm like they were crazy-glued together and I couldn’t unglue them no matter how much sane-glue I applied. A little while later I lost vision in my left eye. A while after that I lost some hearing in my right ear. A while later my neurologists told me I had experienced a “mini” stroke and a short while later they sent me for many, many tests. A while later it was determined that the stroke wasn’t caused by a blockage in my brain which was good news. The bad news was that an aneurysm was discovered up in there and just my luck it was in the part of my brain that I use to think with. A short while later a man I barely knew stuck his hand inside my brain, put some kind of metal in there, sewed me up, sent me on my way home and for some reason now I know the lyrics to every Metallica song ever recorded and I’ve never even heard one.

Sickness. Ah yes, what can we say about sickness. I don’t know as I’m certainly no authority on the subject. Don’t get me wrong. Sure, I’ve seen my fair share of it in my life. In fact sometimes it seems like the only thing I haven’t experienced yet is menopause but stay tuned, the night is still young. I say I’m no authority on the matter because despite all my diagnoses I have refused to become an authority on the subject. I have however become quite the authority on recovery. Let my doctors be the authorities on the diseases. That’s what they’re paid for. My neurosurgeon drives a Maserati, I take the bus. Good for him. I have grown to be quite an astute observer of Hippocrates’s favorite foes and the cures for them. It has been my experience that in order to cope well with a potentially serious medical challenge one is best served by applying a fair amount of creativity. Courage is great, prayer sometimes works but creativity – that’s the key. One must think outside of the box of conventional wisdom about disease. Learning from them for instance can make a perceived unfortunate experience much less so. Take this recent spate of uninvited intruders that have come to squat inside my DNA.

Stroke. Well, welcome to “Learning from maladies 101″. Perfect. I lost the vision in my left eye for a while. That was just God’s way of telling me I was taking his beautiful moving, breathing painting (in other words – life) for granted. He wanted to show me in a way I wouldn’t forget that I wasn’t looking deeply enough at what was around me and utilized a very profound way to inform me of such. Bravo for him. And as a result of the experience I now appreciate the splendor of the world around me to the point where I have barely worn my sunglasses. Even on the most sunniest of days I do my best to leave them at home. Now when I look around all I see is pure beauty everywhere I turn, from the fashion model doing a shoot in the park to the vagrant rummaging through the nearby dumpster just a short few feet away.

I lost some hearing in my right ear. As a life-long musician I could figure this one out from a deep coma (which seeing how things have gone lately might not be far off itself). The Universe (and by the way “Universe” – one “verse”) told me that I wasn’t listening carefully enough to what was going on around me. Birds were chirping, car horns were blasting, the sounds of embarrassed irate women being refused admission to nightclubs because their pumps didn’t match their pocketbooks were emanating from discotheques from Long Island to Mozambique and I didn’t even bat an ear. The Cosmos decided to give me a taste of what it might be like to not be able to hear for real and as a result I have paid strict attention to every sound echoing through the ether. Needless to say now when I listen to Deja Vu Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young never have sounded so sweet. I even swear when I listen, listen, listen carefully I can almost hear David Crosby heaving during the instrumentals.

Learning from medical challenges is invaluable to be sure, but the real gift is actually benefiting from them. Yes, benefitting. Take this stroke thing. I have been trying my Western best to be a Buddhist for at least as long as this life-time has provided me time to do so. To my credit I had been doing a decent job so far but I certainly had my limitations. Until my neurologists gave me the news that is. Limitations be gone because I realized that I had better slow down (and by “slow down” I mean as in living my life as though I am doing tai-chi in a puddle of quicksand on the face of the moon) and living in the moment at least for part of my days or I am going to wind up drinking my meals through a straw and, how shall I put this…well all I can say is if you want to beat this recent country-wide financial crises invest in adult Depends if you know what I mean. So yeah, I was a half-way Buddhist before. But now I am considering adopting a cow before I actually have one.

And what about the aneurysm. Well, what about it? Do you know what one of the first things I did was when they told me that my thought bucket contained one of those? Went out and almost bought a … trampoline! I figured “Why not, it’s a great deal, hey – that’s what yard sales are for.” Not only did I learn that I was a complete moron who forgets devastating medical news almost the moment he hears it and how dangerous it can be to be a moron like that as even though I may be no genius I’m not all the way dumb so I assume that especially now it’s a good idea for me to keep my brain bouncing activities to a minimum, but I also benefited from the experience as well because I also own some spine conditions with real attitudes and have been told not to even walk for exercise or I could wind up having to do my jumping jacks in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

So recently the Universe, hold on, The Universe as I refer to her now, sent me some pretty profound messages. See clearer. Hear more deeply. Stop rushing around. In other words – be Buddhist or else. Be Buddhist or else? You’re G-damned right!

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Enjoy this special Wednesday edition of Poetry Spotlight from our newest Guest Contributor, Cary Maya.

POETRY | CARY MAYA

As navigator gull maneuvers cloud’s breath sighed from shore

As instinct guides direction of his course

As phosphorescent flora sweep deep sister ocean’s floor

Her ponds absorb reflection to their source

As breeze betrays her secrets through the whisperings of the wind

As leaves ballet grand majesty of dance

What marvel must exist create such mystery of how

Eld flowers urge fresh seasons to advance

As wave reports as witness to the sufferings of the sea

As boulder stacks as statue on the beach

As air envelopes globe how wide the tide decides will be

No border built of mortal hope impeach

As rainbow of horizon spreads her signature on dusk

As balm of brother evening breathes his chill

King Calendar collects us as he knows as that he must

For Fate’s her certain destiny to fill

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Untitled Design Experiment

Tonight is the latest entry in our new series, “Fine Art Tuesdays“. Each week you’ll see our latest work in the Digital Arts , Illustration, Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture, and more.  Have some work you’d like to be shown? Whatever it is lets see what you’ve got, so send your work to sighinginunison@gmail.com. We’d love to post it on the site! Bryan kicks us off this week with an untitled design experiment.

ILLUSTRATION | BRYAN J MANGAM

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Change

Every Monday and Thursday we present our flagship feature, Poetry Spotlight, providing the latest introspective thoughts from our staff of Poetry contributors. 

POETRY | MICHAEL LEE

My lungs are gasping for a change of pace

My mind is running in a useless race.

My eyes are hungry for the tears held back

& anxiety is begging for one more lap.