Tuesday, March 3, 2015



Like many restless minds before me I was at the point in my life where I could no longer see the point of it all. I found myself asking the big questions. What is my purpose in the universe? What is the meaning of life? I didn't know how to begin answering these questions so my mind went back to stories from my childhood and tales of ancient heroes. One problem. I didn't know of any dragons to slay, any damsels to rescue, any towns being terrorized by a horrible beast, or any souls trapped in the underworld. So much for that. I decided to look for meaning in the meaningless. The benign. My shoulders slumped but then an old adage popped to mind, "breakfast is the most important meal of the day". Maybe that's it. I know mom is always right. My quest began.

I started where all quests should, at the beginning. Every morning for the past eight years my day has started my getting my son a bowl of his favorite breakfast cereal. Wait. Cereal. Serial. Cereal. Serial. It can't be that easy. Could the meaning of life be hidden in homophones? I set to work combining the two concepts. Breakfast cereal and the Serialist style of composition made popular by Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Webern, and Berg. The twists and turns of dealing with each type of cereal/serial started to give me a glimmer of insight into the strings that bind everything but I still found myself feeling empty. Fine. Everything is connected. So what? With a pounding headache I took an aspirin and decided to go to yoga class. Yoga has always helped me find some stillness.

That day the yoga class was particularly intense (which sounds like an oxymoron to non-yoga folk) so I decided to stop over at a breakfast place close to the yoga studio after class. I had brought a backpack with me that had a book and some manuscript paper in it. A waitress came and filled my coffee cup. I got out my book and started reading. I must have gotten sucked in because the waitress came back and asked if I was ready to order. I hadn’t taken a look at the menu yet so she topped off my coffee cup and left. After a quick glance at the menu I chose what I was going to order. When the waitress returned I placed my order and she topped off my coffee cup. I relaxed back into my booth and started reading 
again. I was feeling very at peace for the first time today.

After about 15 minutes the waitress returned with my order and warmed up my coffee again. I ate my breakfast.  When I was finished I pulled out the manuscript paper and began to think. I was hoping to be struck with inspiration but no ideas were really coming to me. The waitress returned to get my plate, topped off my coffee, left my check and headed back to the kitchen.

By now I was starting to feel the effects of the coffee. I stared at the manuscript paper. As caffeine is known to do it was starting to make my eyes dart back and forth and it made tracking the five little black lines on the paper difficult. I was still feeling the after glow of the yoga class and I was in a state of inner peace but my body was definitely not at peace at all. I’m not sure how much coffee I drank but I was starting the sweat and my feet were shuffling.

Suddenly the humor in the strange juxtaposition of those two feelings hit me all at once. I had a deep sense of inner peace but was very caffeinated. I laughed out loud. Fueled by prana and caffeine I put pencil to paper. In about 15 minutes I had it. The piece I was hoping for. Caffeinated Om.  After I was done I felt a deep sense of satisfaction.  Was coffee and yoga the answer?  Something was still missing.  I was hoping coffee and yoga would give life meaning and it had helped but alas...

As heroes are want to do I decided it was time to return to the source. A physical quest into the deep dark woods. What did I hope to find there? I wasn't sure but I was determined to find out. I bundled up and headed out into the snowy forest armed with only my iPhone and my earnest curiosity. My quest took me deep into the woods. The journey was hard. It was cold and the snow was deep. What I found there changed my life forever but I also got more than I bargained for. I had found the meaning of life but was I ready to see the truth? Was I prepared to see the interconnectedness of everything in the universe? Was I ready to wake up?

as printed in The Chicago Progressive

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