How To Listen To A Raisin

by jkatejohnston

9 August 2013

Dear Max,

I’m alone again, and it’s strange and wonderful. Teresa and Enzo and Duncan went to Tahoe. I’ll work for a week and then take the bus and join them. It seems like a miracle that we get to use the house up there. Enzo loves it so much, swinging on the rope swing over Trout Creek until the skin on his palms blisters up and then putting on bike gloves and swinging some more. Yesterday Teresa texted me that they just caught the biggest crawdad ever.

I forgot to mention what should have been a major announcement: last time we were in Tahoe we caught our first wild trout. All our others have been from the fish farm. It was pretty alarming because it was only a baby, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able get the hook out of its mouth, and it seemed like a terrible thing to murder a baby wild trout from Trout Creek. But we all lived. Most of the time I don’t understand what Enzo likes so much about fishing–the hours of anxious boredom!–but catching a wild trout, you start to feel why people get addicted.

Back to the present. The weather down here’s wonderful. Low 80’s, light breeze, soft light. After dinner I walked to Taylor’s Market, and you could almost pretend it was fall. I brought a sweater. At the market I bought one lamb chop and coffee and milk and bread and fancy butter. I got my cappuccino maker out of the basement. And I have a good book:  Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. Last night I lay in the bottom bunk of Enzo’s bed and read and read and read.

My spiritual journey is incredibly boring. The Oprah stuff isn’t for me. It’s too self-esteemy. The centering thought for Day Five is I Am A Perfect, Divine Creation, which just reminds me of how much I approve of low self-esteem–it’s realistic and kind of brave, but maybe I don’t understand it. Maybe I have it confused it with humility. Anyway, I don’t have either one, so meditations on loving myself seem pretty redundant.

Yesterday instead of the Oprah meditation I did two meditations from the CD I got from the library. In the first one you eat a raisin mindfully. It takes eight minutes. You look at it, noticing its beauty and imperfections, its essential raisiny-ness and also anything about it that’s different from all other raisins and maybe even forget that this thing is called a raisin. You smell it, listen to it and notice what your arm feels like as you raise the raisin to your lips. I did the meditation in the exercise room in the basement of Social Services before work, and I didn’t know what it was going to be about, so I got all settled on my mat with my flaxseed eye pillow over my eyes and started my iPod. Soft music, one chime of a bell, and it starts, and I’m like I don’t have a fucking raisin. So I had to imagine the raisin. It was a golden raisin, very plump. And at lunchtime I did a fifteen-minute meditation from the same CD on breathing. Again, almost miraculously boring, but afterward you feel different. So I think it’s working.

It’s just getting light, and I’m about to harvest my first fig. I’ve been waiting years for this. Yesterday I noticed that one of them is finally ripe, and I decided to wait until this morning and eat it for breakfast. It’ll be cool from the night air, and I’ll slice it in half and maybe sprinkle on a tiny bit of my burnt ginger sugar, but probably not. Probably I’ll just hold it in my mind, just this fig, just this moment, breath in its essential figgy-ness and then have sex with it.