my roommate and I encouraged each other
and hated each other, when one of us succeeded.
It’s an iron rule that writers don’t admire living writers
the green-eyed monster of envy sprouts horns
when the better-looking brother
We were coming-up with secret philosophies of success
and testing them on the publishers of the world. I was into Tony Robbins and Wayne Dyer
and my roommate got into Zen Buddhism. He considered flower arranging for awhile
but the daisies stunk up the place.
Fermented flower water is worse that the hiking trail outhouse
I thought our toilet was backing up, but it was just rotting flowers.
“You got to stop with the flower arranging,” I said.
“I can’t. It’s part of my writing ritual. I arrange the flowers just so, and if I don’t, I get writer’s block.”
“You’ve got to pick-up some other Zen practice,” I said.
“How would you like it if I interrupted your meditation?” He asked.
“Why would you do that? I’m quiet.”
“Don’t you know, that the only way to mysticism is through personal suffering. I need to cause you pain (for your own good).”
“If that’s true, all I need to do is live with you.”
Well… like a good roommate, he adapted to my needs. I’m not complaining 100% about the flowers.
When I went-out on dates, I always had a fresh bouquet (well… almost fresh—they were secondhand spiritual flowers)
On a Sunny Saturday, I walked into the field behind our apartment complex, and there was my roommate with a bow and arrow. A Buddhist monk in orange robes was watching him, with an expressionless face.
My roommate pulled back on his bow, with incredible muscular force, and let it go. It missed the bull’s eye and lodged in a wall, nearly killing a cat.
“If you make progress at the start, you’ll have more difficulties later,” the monk said.
“I guess that means I’ll be a master in no time. Why isn’t the Zen working?”
“You expect failure,” the monk said. “Don’t concern yourself with hitting the mark. You’re trying too hard.”
I watched him, transferring his spirit into my roommate.
“How much time is it going to take for me to master this?” My roommate asked.
“How many days have you been trying to write?”
“Don’t worry about how long it takes. Achieving the goal will happen all by itself. You don’t do it—it does it.”
“What is ‘it’?”
“That is a question you must answer for yourself,” the monk said.
I watched my roommate becoming fearless, like cherry blossom falling serenely to earth.
Soon, our land-line was ringing off the hook. Whatever my roommate wrote, the publishers ate-up, like big fish.
I tried to copy him, but it didn’t work. Maybe, I was trying too hard.
Then, I started making tea, and I enjoyed it, but the ceremony didn’t help my writing one bit.
Our apartment manager and some of the residents complained about the arrows raining down on them.
“None of us want to end-up like William Tell’s son,” our apartment manager said.
“He lived,” my roommate complained.
“Yes, but he shit his pants and he never ate apples again.”
Needless to say, my roommate got writer’s block, and I became a Zen tea master, full of English sophistication and success.