Monday, March 31, 2008
I spent nearly all my spare time this weekend with my nose buried in Bob Spitz’s book “The Beatles,” which I finally finished. (All 800-plus pages!)
It’s interesting to learn more about the band I thought I already knew so well. I never knew, for example, that Ringo Starr was so sickly as a child, and as a result had little formal education. I also never knew just how strung out John Lennon got, or how much Paul McCartney worked to hold together the Beatles’ empire (in ways that often made him seem controlling and demanding). Spitz clearly isn’t enthralled by Yoko Ono, but drugs were the real villain in the Beatles saga. How could anyone work and maintain a business empire with that much LSD and pot and, in John’s case, heroin coursing through their veins?
I loved learning about individual songs and how they came about - I never knew that “Bungalow Bill,” for example, was written about a pair of American guests at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in India who went off on a hunting safari one day. Fascinating!
Anyway, when I wasn’t reading, I was out exploring. My friend Kate and I went walking through parts of Queens and Brooklyn on Saturday - we ultimately spent about six hours on the hoof, and I have lots of photos to show for it. Then Bob and I went out Saturday and again last night, and I went to the gym.
I skipped the Zendo. I am definitely in a retreat phase in my formal Zen practice. I could say that I’ve had a lot going on, and that’s certainly true, but the real truth is that at the moment, I just don’t feel like practicing much. I’ve been feeling some doubts lately - about whether I’m replacing the distractions of daily life with the distractions of ceremony within the Zendo, for example. Aside from the sitting, which I do believe to be important and effective, isn’t it all - the robes, the incense, the liturgy - just another distraction?
(Photo: Bench at the New York Botanical Garden, March 2008)