As the story goes, Siddhartha left his palace at age 29 and wandered into the woods seeking enlightenment. OK, it was maybe more complicated than simply wandering into the woods. He noticed people suffering which is something he had always been sheltered from. But basically Siddhartha sat in the forest not eating anything but a nut or a leaf a day until he fell into a river and nearly drowned. After this Siddhartha sought out a different path to enlightenment which would lead him to a path of moderation from the extremes of self indulgences and self mortification. After many hours of meditation, he would become enlightened and known to us all as the Buddha. The take away thing here is the part about wandering into the woods to seek out enlightenment.
The whole wandering in the wilderness in search of enlightenment has been a thing since homo sapiens have been huddling together in caves. Even cavemen needed some alone time and internal contemplation. The Native Americans called it vision questing. They'd purify themselves in a sweat lodge before heading out into a remote area in the woods where they'd fast and forgo sleep for a few days. They'd return to the village for another round in the sweat lodge and to have their visions interpreted by the Medicine Person. Sometimes drugs were involved. Sometimes it was just enough to be starving. Sometimes the weather was super hot like in the desert or it was freezing. I always imagine that they had visions of food along with the whole enlightened stuff. Like a hot dog telling you some important sage advice. But I have issues about being hungry. One day Buddha may very well speak to me through a cube of fried tofu. Or a chicken leg.
These are things that I think about when I am driving alone in the car during long distance car rides. There are sections of highway that can induce a serious meditative state such as the Flint Hills section of I-35. The highway looks so tiny as it is snakes its way through miles and miles of rolling prairie hills. As the eyes look out into the vast nothing the brain actually falls into that vast nothing and it is there where you have your moment of a vision or enlightenment. It may just be a simple word that comes to you or a note. A tone heard only in one ear (except when this happens to me, I tend to stick my finger in my ear and wiggle it around until the sound stops). This trip across the hills it dawned on me that I wasn't exactly broken. Or at least the term "broken" doesn't really describe things. It's more like I have a festering splinter.
When my brain conjured up the whole festering splinter thing it was like an "ah-ha!" moment that sounded more like Nelson pointing and laughing than an actual choir singing but it did give me some hope. Broken is broken and you can't really fix broke. Even if you glue it back together, you can still see the cracks. But a festering splinter?!? Well, as long as Gangrene hasn't set in, you can totally fix that. First you have to remove the splinter. I have never been good at getting splinters out. I just have flashbacks from all the time a parent came at me with a needle and tweezers. Removing a splinter is never as easy as that dang mouse who pulls the one from the lion's paw makes it look. This should be of no surprise. Feelings, words, slivers of wood are all things on the list of things that I burrow away under my skin and let fester. I am a festerer.
Yesterday I bought a new notebook to put those thoughts, words and feelings into. And a new pen. A purple one. The pen is the needle and the notebook is (are?) the tweezers. Get it?
I hope I do.