Zen (noun) \’zen\
1: a Japanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism that aims at enlightenment by direct intuition through meditation
2: a state of calm attentiveness in which one’s actions are guided by intuition rather than by conscious effort
When Colin told me about his English teacher the other morning in the kitchen, he didn’t get very far into his story before I teared up and had to stop him.
As he was telling me about some classroom bullies and the object of their derision, I had a vision of a second- or third-year teacher, someone young looking enough that it wasn’t uncommon for other faculty to stop her in the hall and ask for her pass. Someone who didn’t yet have the chops to stand up to the jerks in her classroom, snotty adolescents who wore their earbuds through a lecture and made snide remarks about her under their breath.
She’d had a Zen garden, Colin told me. One of those kitschy palettes with sand and polished stones and a teeny rake I guess people use to do their teeny meditation sessions, stacking stones in teeny piles and raking teeny lines in the sand. One by one the stones went missing, and then the rake. Then one morning, students filed in to find sand scattered on the shelf and the floor below it, the palette overturned.
“I wonder what happened?” one of the snotty teens had the nerve to say.