Another Urban Jaunt and Siddharta


 “She lies and says she’s in love with him, can’t find a better man…
She dreams in color, she dreams in red, can’t find a better man…”
-Pearl Jam Better Man

 I find taking long walks is a sound medicine for me when I suffer through pains of depression. Like so many, I become depressed about my failures in relationships. I know I’m not the only one who has them; how do I know that? Because of the statistics on divorce and the number of friends I have who have been through it. I become depressed about financial problems. I know that I’m not the only one; how do I know that? Because I see the number of unemployed and underemployed out on the streets. I become depressed about my slow failing health. I’m not the only one with health problems; how do I know that? Because I watch them every day as they use what strength they have to plod on their daily routine, struggling with myriad ailments.

Legend has it that Prince Siddharta was raised in a palace and shielded from the suffering in this world. Despite his father’s efforts to keep him from the aged, sick and suffering, the prince saw those in his kingdom and it sent him into a great depression. The legend goes on from there and eventually he gets to grow up and become the Buddha (so the legend goes) but I’m not quite to that stage yet. In fact, I see it as not being a depressing sight to see those suffering, rather I witness it and feel kinship to this world with them. We all suffer to various degrees in various stages which makes my walks therapeutic in a way. Granted I have to get going a while (this one clocked in after it was all said and done at 8 miles) but once I wear down my emotional stress, I manage to hit this point of clarity that allows me to see things more objectively….or at least less subjectively. I walk by a house that has half of one side burnt from fire, in need of repair but certainly no funds to do it. I pass by a black man walking down the street with his foot cocked 45 degrees to the left, most likely it was horribly broken and not set properly. I pass by a lady standing next to her motorized wheelchair smoking a cigarette, surveying the clothes she has draped across her chain link fence and I wonder is she having a yard sale or drying her clothes the old fashioned way?

So after the walk I am able to look back and evaluate what I have witnessed. My relationships on one level may be caustic, but on another level I was able to stop by and visit true, good friends who care about me and that type of love is a valued asset we all want. I have financial difficulties but I am not as down and out as the lady I pass who has all her worldly possession rolled up in a dirty bedsheet, sprawled out on the corner with that look in her eyes that says she has no idea where she’s going to sleep tonight.  My health, like everyone’s, slowly declines, but I’m still able to get out and take these long jaunts about the city and enjoy the air I breathe. So although I won’t stop dreaming and hoping for better things in my life, riches and all those other things we fantasize about, I have to remember that those things most likely will never happen. I can try to make them happen but if they don’t I can’t consider my life a failure. I just continue on and remember what all I do have and keep a Buddhist pecking order perspective on things…because even that mighty prince with all his riches and securities eventually threw it all away and sat under a fucking tree.


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