Monday, March 03, 2008

Crazy in the Present Moment

When I realized the person sitting next to me in this morning’s meditation circle was truly crazy, I shuddered and hoped for the best. I suppose meditation is equally good for people in a wide spectrum of mental health.

The door to the yoga studio where we sit remains unlocked for the duration of our sit. Anyone who wants to come in can do so. Just as Gordon and I had gotten ready to begin, the door opened and in came William. There was something a little off in his speech and I noticed his unmatched wrinkled clothes with a big rip in one of the jacket seams. He too got ready for the invitation of the meditation bell.

The thought went through my head that I was glad to have Gordon’s company. I didn’t know anything about William. What if he was more than a little strange?

During the walking meditation he deviated from the circle making a detour into the yoga center office. But then he re-emerged and joined us once again, now the three regulars with Marjorie having arrived.

The sit itself was quite uneventful. But as we each had a chance to say something afterwards, William chose to give a sermon instead of a few words summarizing his sit. He chronicled the revelation in 1969 that sent him on his current path, his trip from Sacramento to the East, his life mission, his work as a yoga instructor, his interest in all religions, the inspiration which was responsible for delivering him to our door this morning, and did I mention his website? He offered us each a business card, which I declined.

Afterwards he tried to engage Marjorie, who said she was really too busy to stay around and talk. I left him plying Gordon with a bunch of questions. Poor sweet Gordon! I guess he skipped me because I didn’t take one of his business cards.

I’m fairly sure William is harmless, although definitely way out there. And my guess is he has not held a real job in some time. But there was a certain desperation about him that left me feeling just a little nervous. Am I being totally unfair and paranoid?


Blogger Reya Mellicker said...


How about a little protection spell for the yoga studio? A sprig of rosemary on the front door should keep crazies away. You know I don't approve of doing magic anymore, but there are times when it's very appropriate, especially if you don't close and lock the door while you sit.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- I think I'll invest in some rosemary for the door. It can't hurt and it does smell nice. Otherwise we are an open invitation to anyone who happens to wander by and look in!

8:36 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'd say that you are aware of your surroundings. Someone you don't know entered a place you feel safe and exhibited strange behavior. Wariness is well justified. You didn't overreact and you didn't ask him to leave. I don't think you were unfair or paranoid.

8:51 AM  
Blogger WDCD/DRFS/aka Sue said...

I should take to wearing rosemary...I seem to attract somewhat offbeat individuals. Riding the train in NYC was always intresting as you never know who is going to sit next to you...or follow you...or tell you about their religious fervor. I got a man in the post office trying to witness to me. I told him I was acquainted with Jesus myself and we get along just fine...

9:21 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- There is a fine line between wariness and paranoia. I would like to stay on the side of wariness!

Sue -- It's clear that some people just need someone to listen to them. A sympathetic, even if unbelieving, ear.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I would probably respond just as you did. I'm wary most times but I sometimes attract off-beat males to whom I allow a closeness that I shouldn't. I have done this twice in the last 10 years so now I am quite wary in my willingness to simply respond to everyone and believe them. Wearing Rosemary or at least a perfume from it, sounds good to me!

1:45 PM  
Blogger YogaDawg said...

Stumbled on this post and think there is a funny bit here....

5:27 PM  
Blogger Colette Amelia said...

I think mental illness is a little scary for us. I don't know if it is because we are afraid that we will be harmed or if we are afraid it is catchy!

I often wonder if those poor souls are cognisant of their state, or if they are normal to them?

And then I wonder just what the heck is normal?

Sometimes it is the real normal people that we need to be afraid of...Bundy, Bush, Cheney.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Dawg -- And where is the funny bit? Sad, yes, but not funny.

Colette -- I don't think William had a clue that he wasn't exactly like the rest of us. Maybe it's better that way.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Oh, poor Gordon.

It is an interesting problem: when does a difference in opinion, understanding or perception cross the threshold and become a mental disorder? When does confidence and certainty become delusion?

Desperation, quiet or otherwise, is not a good thing. William needs to learn to pull back and be less insistent.

Too bad you don't have the website, I would have been interested in seeing it. There is a certain ... erm ... commonality of design among fanatical / paranoid / delusional people (huge fonts; frequently changing font colour / type; blanket declarations; uneven flow; it often seems yellow and red are the favourite colors - not that I have ever undertaken an exhaustive survey, but those are my impression).

I would never assume anyone to be harmless, especially if they are insistent. I would also be wary of people whose thought processes I do not understand / or find unpredictable.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- All interesting points you raise. I have to remind myself that I too could be in this predicament some day and perhaps not even be aware of it.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Ruth D~ said...

Makes me sad, is all. Caution and concern . . .

7:05 PM  

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