Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Zen Way of Life?

I've been thinking about this for quite a few years and it has always bugged me. See ..... I can't quite figure out the rationale here. Maybe you can help me.

There has been this "New Age" attitude going on for quite some time now. Hey, I have no problem at all with New Age, I feel as though I'm fairly New Agey myself, I just consider it "Old Age" because the ideas are not new.

Anyhoo, what I've noticed is something going on with men and their adaptation of the New Age idea of a Zen lifestyle. Again .... nothing new about that. Here's the problem as I see it: it seems to have more to do with a lack of responsibility than a true Zen lifestyle. Zen, from Zen Buddhism, is a school of Mahayana Buddhism which emphasizes the value of meditation and intuition. A valuable addition to anyone's life.

However, the idea of "Zen" has nothing to do with producing children and then not supporting them, either emotionally or financially. It also has nothing to do with dropping out of the responsibilities of life which include but are not limited to supporting oneself, being a positive addition to one's community, and being responsible to the family that one has created.

Speaking here from personal observation over the past 30 years, I've had male friends who feel that they must either "find themselves" or "do their own thing" whenever this thought might occur to them. Interpretation: don't expect them to support the children they've created and left behind with their ex-mates. They have the important work of "finding themselves" on their plates. When these men stop supporting their families both emotionally and financially, they wonder why their children end up wishing to have nothing to do with them. Gee .... must be something wrong with the kids, right? WRONG!

This trend also seems to include men who must move in with others, as they cannot (i.e. refuse) support themselves. Something cosmic brings them to the needy or blindly sympathetic (OK, been there myself, done that twice), and they find a wonderful woman/friend who already owns a home (it's magic!) and takes them in as a roommate. Suddenly life is good! They can do what they want every day, until the mate/roommate catches on. Sleeping all day (it's just SO hard to be conventional), wandering around (I must take my walk), playing on the computer (that new best seller is right around the corner!), taking photographs that never get sold ("Hey, I'm gonna be famooose") all are de rigueur for the New Age Zen Man. Income producing action is not, because that generally insists on at least a modicum of resolute activity.

What you all have found, you irresponsible boys out there, is the bottom of the barrel of your life. If your kids no longer care about you, you're middle aged and don't have your own apartment or own a home, someone else is supporting you, you spend your days commiserating with other men in the same position who have miraculously, finally found their perfect partner" (read: someone who will work her butt off full time to support you so you can be "Zenned"), believe this: you are not enlightened. You are fooling yourselves with your rationalizing. It won't work forever.

Yes, I know there are women out there in our world who abandon their children and depend on others to take care of them. Personally observed statistics say there are far fewer ....... but that's another BLOG, isn't it.

You may be wondering ...... why this subject ... why now? Well, yesterday I got to thinking. I got to thinking about a former friend's current lifestyle and got to wondering what lead him to this unfortunate point in his life. His sad/needy circumstances reminded me of the past 30 years during which time I've had a few male friends (I could count 'em on all my fingers and toes, but that's quite a few to have known who were in this sad and similar lifestyle situation) who managed to turn their irresponsible, self-indulgent, self-righteous attitudes into a rationalized "Zen lifestyle."

Bill Cosby and Barack Obama have spoken recently about the responsibility that Fathers have or should have in the Black community. While at this time there may be more instances of male parental irresponsibility in the Black community (these statistics are not at my fingertips and it doesn't really matter), this trend is certainly not limited to any particular ethnic group.

Here's the bottom line:

- If your kid(s) don't have much to do with you, there's probably a good reason and it's not THEM.

- If you are middle aged and have virtually nothing to show for the past 30-40 years of your life, there's a reason, and it's not someone else's fault. You and your choices are the reason. Being able to sit around all night and sleep all day because some sympathetic roomie has taken you in for the time being is not a fine example of a life well lived.

Oh ya, I know: "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose." Two ways of looking at that, right. However, "nothin' left to lose" is not Zen .... it's not good (you've lost it all, get it?) ...... and it's not cool.

Get a job supporting yourself and supporting your family. Your free Zen ride is not really freedom, and you know it. The soul's comfort of knowing you're doing the right thing ...... now THAT is Zen, and that is freedom. Freedom from having to rationalize who you are and the way you live and freedom from those niggling little thoughts around the corners of your mind telling you that you have taken wrong turns in your life and it's time to shape up and ship out into responsibility. That would be daily responsibility. Dang I've been wanting to say that for quite awhile. Thanks, yesterday's catalyst .... and you know who you are.

That's what I think ...... unless someone changes my mind. But I doubt it.


~Dedicated to my Dad, who always tried to do his best in life, and had a helluva lot to show for the way he lived. His spirit and knowledge lives on through the people he taught and all those he helped teach that doing your best and always trying to do the right thing was the way to live one's life.~

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