My best friend Bruce Crookston moved from New Jersey to Ohio when we finished 7thgrade. Determined to keep our friendship going, I decided to visit him the summer after 8thgrade. By myself. Which meant my first flight on an airplane.
I remember so clearly lifting off on a grey, cloud-covered day and feeling genuine amazement when we broke through the clouds into the sunshine. In a prophetic foreshadowing of my future interest in Buddhism and perpetual sense of hope for humanity, I wrote what I considered a deep insight: “The sun is always shining. It’s just the clouds that are in the way.”
And indeed, one of Buddhism’s main tenets is that we are all blessed with a Buddha Nature that gets obscured by the clouds of our ignorance. The practice of meditation is one of the ways to waft them away, to break through to the light, to be “enlightened.” And those clouds of ignorance can equally apply to our political awareness and/or our general sense of our own capability to contribute, the way “This Little Light of Mine” has trouble shining in the doom and gloom of our own cloudy minds and delusion.
I thought of this all again as I began my 6thday in fog-bound San Francisco, so romantic seen from the Berkeley hills, so dismal trapped inside of it. So I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and behold! my first spot of sunlight all week! And remembered my 8thgrade epiphany. Yes, we—or at least I—need sunlight like fish need water. It didn’t wholly eradicate the recent headlines (take your pick!), but combined with an 8-mile walk, it sure helped.
As for Bruce Crookston, we drifted apart and the last I heard from him is when he called me in the middle of my 40thbirthday party, very drunk and very nostalgic for our lost childhood. I’ve looked for him on Facebook a couple of times, but to no avail. Bruce, if you’re reading this, let’s get in touch! But before you start drinking.