Back when I first started studying and practicing Buddhism, I had occasion to meet a man in a coffeehouse who introduced me to some of the sutras. He was older than I, being mid-fifties to perhaps early sixties. During his years, he'd spent a great deal of time in Buddhist countries and spoke of having traveled the length and breadth of the fabled Silk Road.
During one of our conversations over a cup he handed me what I would later learn was a Thai Buddhist prayer stone, encased in a pendant. Years later, a man in an import shoppe would tell me how monastery monks would carve these and they'd be traded almost like baseball cards. Such a happenstance got me to think of the stories of holy relics during the dark age Europe.
At twenty-three, I took this fetish with reverent awe, which could be considered awkward from someone so full of heresies, and a respectful inclination of my head. To me it carried the wisdom of someone more learned than I in the ways of the Dharma and the scents of the fabled Silk Road. Perhaps, I was giving too much power to a thing that was, when it came down to brass tacks and bedposts, just a trinket. A fetish. So many years later, I don't think it matters.
Some ten years after I was given that fetish, when I was trying to be something other than a friend to the gypsy, I gave her that Thai Buddha. To her credit, after her curb-kicking and me saying done and over, she offered to return it to me. I declined, saying it was a gift to her. She needed a talisman so well traveled-gypsy!-more than I. Occasionally, I confess, I regret that decision because of the auspice of how I received that trinket, but it would've been uncivilized to ask for it back. I might be the worst kind of bastard with the morals of an alley cat, but I do have manners.
A few weeks ago, at a bead show in Fairplay, I came across a piece of punched brass I immediately recognized as the countenance of a Thai prayer stone. On one side is the Buddha, and, on the other, some Thai script that might read eat at Joe's for all my literacy in that tongue.
Of course I had to have it...
Since its acquisition, I have found myself subconsciously touching or looking at it. Memories of a man who claimed to have traveled the fabled Silk Road flit through the corridors within my skull. I catch myself thinking I have recovered something I lost, even if, when it comes down to brass tacks and bedposts, that is not quite the case.
To barrow a metaphor a friend used a few years back, it would seem summer's back is broken. I've mentioned some of the omens I've observed. The emerald of some of the aspens has faded to duller green. One meteorological oracle I consult has spoken of a cool and moist autumn. It would seem we are seeing its prelude.
Another omen of the changing seasons is one of the local history groups giving once a month talks. Usually, this is September to April or May. A way to stave of cabin fever during the cooler, darker months, perhaps. This year, it's started a month early. The magistrate, who's great-grandmother and grandmother ran a few of the boarding houses in the area during the halcyon antiquity of the mining days, found, what he called, a younger couple to give a presentation of mining boarding houses in the mountains.
The mister of this couple was easily five, if not ten, years older than me. A great many cats I'm acquainted with refer to me as young man. The baby. Of course, a great many of these cats are my father's age, if not older. I mine them for stories and they speak of when they had my energy levels. I find irony in this. Perhaps the only thing more ironic was when the magistrate, whom is possessed to a warm and jovial manner and, it has been joked, would befriend a rock, told me recently that, whilst he considers himself a patient man, he thinks I perhaps have him beat.
Then again, I am in possession of formidable patience of which saints and monks prey for and upon...
Although, I've often thought of Job as my guru, it seems our recent conversations have not involved him breaking down cosmic wisdom. It seems I've been trying to encourage him to pick himself up by his bootstraps more. What a friend does.
"Well, my young friend, thank you, as always, for the scintillating conversation," he said as we concluded our most recent chat. "You've given me so much to think about."
Curious. Time was I'd go to Job for advice. For insight and a differing perspective. That after our conversations over many, many, many cups of coffee, I'd have a skull full of new information of which to process and apply. We've know each other almost twenty-one years now. One of my oldest and dearest friends. It would appear that within the course of almost twenty-one years, the tables have turned.
Funny old world...