After a month of cold and flu and coal smoke and pre-schoolers, a friend and I finally managed to meet up at the local pool hall, have a beer, shoot some 8 ball and catch up on each other’s lives. I won the lag and broke the rack and then we started our mutual dance of billiard ineptitude – we both suck so one game can go on for ever and while we bang the balls around the purple velvet cloth we play air guitar, we dance a bit and we talk.
My friend is a brilliant beautiful man whose natural compassion in word and in action continues to delight and inspire and fill my heart with joy and gladness and while some might see him as odd, I see him as a bodhisattva – as a being of light. “So, he says, ” as he circles the table eyeing the selection of stripes versus solids and which one he might possible make. “I”ve been reading some of this Buddhist stuff and it fits for me and I’d like to share a Buddhist moment with you.” This was news! I was all ears and the clacking of other balls colliding with each other on the tables nearby faded away and I felt as though I was standing on emptiness having no expectation of what he would say and knowing what ever it was it would be wonderful.
“you know a walk the river trail every day and a few days ago I happened upon a woman who was hitching a ride. We got to talking and she told me she didn’t have the money to buy a bus ticket to take her home. So I took out my wallet and saw that I had a ten and 2 ones and as the ticket costs $3 I gave her the $10 and she got on the bus and home safe. So a few days later I see her on the trail again and she’s drunk and we start talking and she tells me ‘I was so happy to get the $10 that after I got home I went and had a burger and still had $ left over so I went to the casino and I won some money…and now I need $3 to get home again.’ So, what was your realization, I asked: I realized, he said as he dead centered a corner pocket shot half way across the table, that you can’t put your own expectations on other people that they just don’t see the world as you want them too if they did they wouldn’t be themselves. And it’s OK – that it is really OK with people just being who they are and not meeting or living to my expectations.” So what did you do? “I gave her three bucks,” he said and I felt my heart glow, soften and open as wide as needed.
I hit the 8 ball a bit wide and while it hooked the pocket and dropped in, so did the cue ball. The interruption of play allowed space to let his insight and the sharing sink in. My heart was smiling as I racked the balls and watched him bust them up nearly as badly as I usually do. So, J, what are you going to do the next time you see her on the trail. And without a blink he said:”try to have three $1 bills on me.
I have no doubt this will be part of my friend’s practice for years to come. He will never miss the money and the enrichment he will cultivate and gather will be priceless – as priceless as the Mudita (appreciative joy) I felt sharing in that moment with a very a special friend. We reminded each other that little things make a difference, and parted ways with a joyful heart. He told me I was fat and I told him he had nice man tits. He rode off towards the river trail and then home on his bike and I walked down the street and turned into……steampunk Bob.