REAL ART

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Christmas Meditation

Honestly, I thought Kaylee’s idea was stupid. I didn’t want to meditate, but I did agree that I needed to get Alice off my mind. And since I couldn’t think of another way, I chose meditation.

The clinic was called BEING, which stood for Be Energized, Internalized, Naturalized Greatness. I guess the acronym made sense.

BEING was located close to my old high school Rose High on Rosedale Valley Road and when I entered the room, I noticed a grey carpet and a bunch of black chairs side by side to form a circle.

There were two pretty girls sitting beside each other on the far right corner: one blonde and the other a redhead. The blonde girl’s hair seemed to give off a strange greenish glow and the redhead seemed to be one of those girls that loved to smile. Didn’t matter why, she was smiling. She was smiling right now as she looked at her iPhone. The back cover was of Winnie The Pooh and Piglet.

I never understood girls that were so obsessed with childish things: Disney, princesses, and bright colours. But then I guess you could call me dark and morbid. I had been quite cynical so far with being away from Toronto and the whole Alice Situation. Maybe meditation would actually help me.

I decided to sit across from them, but noticed their shoes were off when a man with slick black hair combed back and a handlebar moustache walked into the room and removed his black cowboy boots. He draped his black leather jacket on the back of the chair a bit farther away from the girls and folded his legs underneath him. The Perfect Meditating Position.

I looked at my snow stained boots that seemed to already be marking the carpet with their presence, removed them, and placed them under my chair hoping no one would see the stains. I then moved seats so I didn’t stain my socks and also to make it look like the stains had been there before I had come in. But it was pretty obvious they hadn’t been.

The man at the front of the circle was still meditating and continued to as two other men showed up. Each man sat on the other side of me and I immediately noticed the sex segregation in the room. When the two men were seated, the man in black (yes his shirt was black, his pants, even his socks) opened his eyes.

“Welcome to BEING!” he cried and then clapped his hands. “I hope this place wasn’t too hard to find. Our first session is called ‘Regeneration’. How many of you have meditated before?” No one raised their hand. “I see. Well, that’s fine. Meditating is a great way to relieve stress and I assume that’s why you’re all here. Exams can be tough and sometimes our families piss us off, or maybe dorm life, or students, or just people and society in general. So what I would like all of us to do is say our name and why we’re here.” The man in black then reached out for the table behind him and grabbed the clipboard that was sitting there. “Now, I’ll go first. My name is George Earkle and I will be your guru on this magnificent journey. I am here today to teach you all how to meditate.” Earkle’s eyes glanced at me and I realized it was my turn to speak.

“I’m Art. And I’m here to relieve stress.”

Yeah, because if I mentioned Alice’s name or that I was trying to get over the obsession of a girl…well, you get the idea.

“Welcome Art,” said Earkle. “But I actually was looking at the man beside you.”

The man on my right smiled and waved his hand at me mockingly. He had fiery green eyes and I wanted to punch him in the face. “My name is Jack and I have anger management problems, so I’m trying to find a way of calming myself down. I was told that meditation is the way to go.”

“Very good,” said Earkle. “It is one way. I hope it helps you with your mental illness.”

Jack ground his teeth. I could tell he didn’t like that word.

“I’m George as well,” said the man on my left.

“Fabulous name you have sir!” ejaculated Earkle, but George ignored him.

“I am here because my girlfriend left me.” The room went silent.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Earkle said after the long pause, “but love does not always work in our favour.” George nodded. “I’m sure meditation will help you relieve the memory of her.”

“I hope so.”

“But they do say grief never really leaves you.” Earkle looked up at the ceiling as if pondering the cream colour while George glared at him. I wondered if anyone actually liked this man.

“I’m Sophie,” spoke the blonde. “I’m here because my boyfriend left me.”

Earkle’s big brown eyes widened like an over expressive anime character and stared at Sophie. “Hmm…” he said. “You and George might want to meditate together, as you’re both trying to get over the same thing. I do encourage group meditation obviously and sometimes it’s nice to have a friend near by.”

So now George Earkle was a matchmaker, but Sophie smiled back at him. “Yeah, that’s not a bad idea if George is willing.”

“Oh yeah,” George said a bit too suddenly and a bit too emphatically. I knew that all that was going through his head was girl, big boobs, blonde, hot, sure, but Sophie frowned at his sudden outburst and I almost expected our guru to blurt, “Keep it in your pants!” but he didn’t.

“I’m Rachel,” squeaked the redhead.

Great. She even has one of those squeaky girly voices.

“I’m here because I’m stressed and need a way to destress. My mom told me that a great way is through meditation.”

“My sister told me the same thing,” I blurted out. I was wondering if George was going to mention that Rachel and I should meditate together, but he didn’t. “Excellent,” Earkle said, checking off the last name. He had been checking off all our names on his clipboard as we had gone around the circle. “Now, let’s meditate.”

Earkle put the clipboard back on the table and then looked directly at us. “I want you all to close your eyes and listen to your breathing. But I want you to be listening to each breath coming out of your nostrils. You can count the breaths if you want, but I really want you to just listen to them.”

I closed my eyes and tried to hear my nostrils inhale and exhale after each breath. It was quite calming. I could hear shuffling across from me and I wondered if it was Sophie or Rachel.

“If you have any unnecessary thoughts interrupt your meditation, let them come. But try to focus on your breathing. Sometimes the thoughts can be quite invasive and completely distract you. But don’t try to shove them out. They will go away. With practice, the thoughts will become less of a nuisance.”

It was ominous hearing Earkle’s voice in the darkness. Yes, Earkle had actually drawn the curtains to cover the big windows emitting all the sunlight. But the blackness was relaxing and I didn’t have that many invasive thoughts. Just one and it was about Alice. Well, more like girls in general. I think I had decided that there was no point in fantasizing over Alice because she wasn’t my girlfriend. Maybe some day she would be, but I didn’t want to think about that. Once I thought of the maybe-laters, the maybe-laters became now or very close to now. So I thought about the two girls in the room and just thought that maybe it would be better to date a local girl rather than some girl that I may never see again if I dropped out of U.O.K.

For some reason, I thought that Sophie was already taken because I had a very good idea she would be interested in George and some day they would date. So that left only Rachel and though I did find Rachel to be a bit too girly, I found her to be quite cute: that sort of childish cuteness, that child innocence, a girl who would be fun to be with. She would always be smiling, always laughing, and always having a good time. A girl who basically never wanted to grow up and wanted to treasure the little things in life like baking, cartoons, and expressing her girlyness.

O.K., well, when you read it like that she does sound like a child trapped in an adult body. But I did think that Rachel would be fun to hang around and I didn’t really believe Rachel hadn’t grown up, she just wouldn’t let adult stereotypes change her. Basically, she would remain her type of girl rather than what society deems her to be a “girl” at her age.

“This is fucking stupid.”

I opened my eyes and noticed that everyone else had except for Earkle.

“Jack, I understand your frustration. But meditation takes time. You don’t master it in a day,” coaxed Earkle.

“Dude, this if fucking stupid,” said Jack. “We can’t control our thoughts.”

“Yes you can.” Earkle’s eyes were the only ones still closed.

I looked over at Rachel who just gave me a shrug. But she wasn’t smiling. Her small mouth was shaped into a small frown.

“No, I can’t! You’re not in my brain!”

“Our brains all work the same way. If you just focus on your—”

“You’re a fucking whack job, man!” And then Jack got up from his chair and headed for the door, slamming it behind him. Earkle’s eyes were still closed.

“I apologize for that interruption. Now, as we were.”

I couldn’t believe that Earkle had remained calm throughout that whole kerfuffle. My lifetime goal then became to become as calm and relaxed as Earkle.

After a half-hour, Earkle said, “Now, I would like all of you to open your eyes.”

Our eyes were opened once again and this time so were Earkle’s. “Now, tell me, how was that?”

“It was quite uplifting,” said George.

“I felt very relaxed,” Rachel said.

“Definitely don’t feel stressed,” said Sophie.

Then eyes were spotlighting on me. “Um...well, to be honest I didn’t find it to be that great given the distractions. Actually, I got a bit bored of my breathing.”

Earkle nodded. I knew I had just failed this course. “That’s O.K., Art. Not everyone gets it at first. I’m sure after a few sessions you will feel very calm. As with the breathing, it doesn’t work for everyone. Maybe you should focus on something easier like your heartbeat.”

My heartbeat, I thought. My heartbeat’s broken.

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