We are crossing the make-shift bridge over a dried stream bed, Jeb and I. He’s had weekend fun with his dad and is now returning back home with me.

In his eight and a half-year old fingers, he clutches the full-color booklet that came with his latest Wii game. This three-dimensional, virtual reality fun is something reserved for Dad’s house. We don’t own a television and the only video game I’ve considered purchasing was Deepak Chopra’s Leela, hoping to pique Jeb’s interest while teaching meditation practices (which was about as effective as trying to disguise Brussel sprouts in a palatable sauce).

courtesy of http://www.deepakchopraleela.com

I’m a purist, opting for games with zero violence, while Jeb’s Dad is OK with some fighting. I’ve made peace with this to an extent, but this time the limits are stretched.

Jeb knows how I feel about violence and he’s exploring the terrain with me as we walk, explaining the new game.

“Yeah, so there are these guns and you’re shooting…but there is only a little bit of blood.”

The air between us thickens. He’s baiting, awaiting my reaction.

He’s never had a ‘killing game’ before and certainly nothing that showed blood. I look at the booklet in his hand. On the cover of “Conduit 2” is some robot figure with huge arms and a gun. I see the square in the bottom corner with a rating of ‘T’ for ‘Teen’.

“Jeb, that says it’s rated for Teens. You’re eight and a half…not even close to double digits yet.”

I can feel him and all of the layers. The thrill of holding contraband in his hands. The fact that he possesses “T-rated” material makes him feel mature.

A few layers in, and I can also sense him quietly waiting. He’s counting on me to be the one with a conscience. It’s there, this sense within him, that he knows. He knows a violent video game is not the best choice. But he can’t help but have a little delight in the rebellion.


“It’s not that bad, Mom. Just some fighting…not too much blood. You’re just sensitive.”

In this moment, I make the choice not to explain what he has already heard. That for me, killing is not a game. And when people, especially children with developing bodies and minds, begin to ‘pretend’ to kill things in a virtual reality setting, the lines between real and pretend can be blurred.

Jeb’s looking down at the Conduit book in his hand, as the two of us walk up an incline, side by side. We’re quiet for a while and then approach his Dad’s pick up truck, where skateboards and helmets wait to be loaded into my car.

Jeb gathers the items in relaxed fashion, humming to himself.

Vande Gurunam charanaravinde…

It’s the ancient Sanskrit words we chant at the beginning of every yoga practice. Jeb’s heard it over the years, as whenever there’s a school holiday, he comes and sits in the back of the class while I practice.

He’s putting his backpack in the car, setting the Conduit booklet on the seat. “Sandarshita svatmasukavabodhe…

These lines translate:
“I pray to the lotus feet of the supreme guru
who teaches knowledge awakening of the great happiness of the Self revealed”

Jeb doesn’t get all of the words exact and he mumbles them only half-consciously. But I hear it. It’s in there and spilling forth from his mouth. The little sponge that he is, leaking all that he’s been soaking up.

I try to find solace in the irony. Like somehow the chant falling from his tongue is an antidote for the gun game in his hand.

There’s no way to wrap up this moment in any kind of neat, little package. It encapsulates the truth that life is a messy swirl of overlap. Black and white won’t stay in their respective boxes.

I surrender and do my best to escort Jeb through the grey zone. All the while knowing, he’s like all of this planet’s little ones. Living and growing their lives in a precious, oh-so-tender, state of super-absorbancy.

Living the Answers

The toast pops up, Jeb’s breakfast is ready. I’m wrapping up a quick morning catch up on the phone with my girlfriend who lives in California. She’s just dropped her kids at school and has pulled up to her next appointment.

She and I, we grab these windows. Try to make our time on the phone potent within the frames we’re given.

At the end of our conversation, she leaves me with some gems. Three questions, ala Deepak Chopra. The “Soul Questions” that he suggests be asked, daily, before going into meditation. I wipe the butter from my fingers and jot them down before we say goodbye.

Who am I?
What do I want?
What is my dharma (life purpose)?

Deepak’s advice: “Ask the questions…and then live the answers.”

So I don’t have a daily meditation practice. Even my regular yoga practice has had a hiccup since school ended and summer has Jeb home with me in the mornings. So I’ll do the hybrid thing for now and just try to remember to contemplate these questions throughout my day – like when I’m washing dishes or chopping garlic.

Or, like now, when it’s 5:30 in the morning and I’m typing at the computer. All is swirling around in my early morning head and there seems to be some thread between Deepak’s questions and that Stan Lee documentary we watched last night. The one featuring all of these people doing “superhuman” things.

Take Eskil Ronningsbakken of Norway, for example. What’s his dharma? I don’t know but the man has certainly found his place – right in the pocket – to be able to balance himself in such precarious positions. His epic aerobatics manifest the visual proof of being perfectly in the moment.

As I drive to my next appointment and juggle summer camp, work and the monthly phone bill, it’s a stretch for me to remember to ask my soul questions. But if I don’t, I can watch myself fall down into a rabbit hole of rat-race nonsense, so bleak and hopelessly unbearable.

I try to give that gaping, vacuous hole a wide berth. Stay far from its sucking edge. But some days its pull is stronger than others.

These Deepak questions seem to be a panacea for falling into this senseless abyss. My soul longs to live the answers. But how?

I suspect Deepak and Eskil probably have a phone bill to pay, too. But they seem to be mastering that sweet spot. Lingering at some consummate threshold – the true Divine – where the mundane and the profound entwine.

Eskil Ronningsbakken courtesy of http://www.getintravel.com (click the photo for more images)

Sleeping Through the Secrets

I think you’re supposed to be awake in order to achieve enlightenment.

It’s embarrassing to admit that even the lure of being privy to The Book of Secrets is not enough to keep me conscious. Every time I try to read a bit of Deepak’s sage wisdom, I get about two paragraphs in and promptly fall asleep.

I think the Bohemian found me last night with the book laid across my chest, my eyes shut and my mouth hanging open – not exactly the illuminated state I was seeking.

I’m beginning to wonder what it means if someone offers up a book filled with secrets to the key of life and I simply cannot read it without drifting into dreamland.

I thought I wanted the juiciest secrets divulged. Maybe I’m just not ready.