Thursday, June 16, 2016

"A Blast From The Past (And I Mean The Past)"

A new overpriced neighborhood grocery store sells paleo-bread, which I thought I would try because the gluten free bread I am currently eating is remarkably similar to cardboard with crust.

Paleo-bread is a grain-free confection made from ingredients that were commonly eaten during the Paleolithic Period, whose earliest appearance was over a couple of million years ago.  (Give or take “I can’t conclusively prove any of this.”) 

The thing is, bread itself was not included in the Paleolithical diet.  So what they in fact are selling is the ingredients of a diet the Paleolithic people used to eat made into a bread that they didn’t.  (Curious Side Note:  Why are we copying the eating habits of a people whose life expectancy was substantially lower than our own?)

I now proceed from “Faddish Adherence to a Diet from Two Million Years Ago” to the point of interest of this exercise:

Behaviors from way back that still influences us today.

Case in pernt:

Stepdaughter Rachel and her terrific family have a delightful dog named “Bean”, a Chihuahua mixed with something else, which I believe was also a dog.

“What is that?”

“A poodle-porcupine, or ”Porcu-poodle”

They do not do that. 

“We had some time on our hands at the lab…”


“Bean’s” behavior seems to reflect a primordial protocol.  Whenever anyone comes to the door – friend, foe, stranger or family member –“Bean” barks like a maniac.  Which in a way is nice – ”Aw, he’s protecting us” – but is maddeningly unhelpful when it took you forever to get one of your little ones down for a nap, “Bean” barks uncontrollably and they’re up. 

(An Interesting Side Note:  My brother and his then writing partner Lorne Michaels once visited comedian Bob Newhart at this home to pitch him some material for his act.  Noticing Newhart’s undersized (as is “Bean”) pet dog, they asked him what kind of a dog it was and were informed that it was a specially bred “Guard Dog.”  Reading their skeptical reactions to its diminutive proportions, Newhart explained:  “He’ll kill ya.  It’ll take him a month.  But he’ll kill ya.”) 

Despite Rachel and husband Tim’s ardent wishes that he would, “Bean” is unable to stop barking.  Over the passing eons, “Person and Property Protection” became the breed’s identifiable M.O.  And you cannot get it out of them.  “Barking at interlopers” is fundamentally who they are.

Which brings me to me.  And doesn’t it always.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, I have over the past thirty-five or so years been an enthusiastic advocate of meditating in the morning, to take the edge off what the day will be throwing my way, and to quiet my mind, facilitaing my role as a “Channeler of Hopefully Interesting and Provocative Thoughts and Ideas.”

I know from experience that if I don’t meditate, I am unable to perform at my best.  It is better for me to meditate.  No question. 

Why then do I resist the process?

It’s true.  Although I am aware of how much meditation assists me in a variety of capacities, I can sense while I’m doing it a overpowering impulse – akin to “Bean’s” inability to stop barking – not to. 

Why does that happen?

Of course the mind wanders.  The question is why.   And I think I know the answer.

My conclusion is hardly indisputable; I am better observer than an explainer.  But I am looking at “Bean” who I imagine on some level is thinking, “They hate it when I bark but I can’t help what I do”, and I think that’s what’s confounding my decision to sit quietly and clear my mind is, as with “Bean”:  Some essential mechanism of primordial programming.   

And what mechanism it that?

Self-preservation via constant vigilance.

A long time ago, it would seem, a moment’s distraction, a blink of an eye when you are unfocused on your immediate surroundings and it could be unequivocally “Game Over.”

Somewhere inside me there is this conditioned belief that while I am focusing on some mind-clearing image or idea rather than signals of imminent danger, a giant wolf will appear out of nowhere and bite off my foot.

And I immediately stop meditating.

That appears to be the scenario.  I am meditating away – freeing myself from worry and concern – real or imagined – and my mind suddenly thinks, “Wolf!  My concentration is broken, and I am not meditating anymore.

I am aware of how foolish that sounds.  A wolf in Santa Monica.  2016.  In my bed.  In my house.  The likelihood of wolf-related injury, incalculably miniscule.   And yet… it is in there, and it’s real.  Messing counter-productively with my mindfulness. 

“Meditation Interruptus”. 

Due to the menacing specter of a two million year-old predator.

And, like the barking “Bean” waking the sleeping children…

There’s not a thing I can do about it.

Advice sincerely solicited:

How do I expel the imaginary wolf?


JED said...

I know I am stating the obvious and I know everyone else has come up with this solution already but here I go anyway. I can't help myself.

The answer is obviously to ask Rachel to let Bean visit you while you are meditating. He is born to protect and defend. You will be safe from any wolves in the area and Bean will feel that he is not just barking at the wind.

As a side note, I saw an interesting episode of Cesar "The Dog Whisperer" Millan's series Cesar 911 where he helps Jerry Seinfeld's dachshunds who, like Bean, cannot keep themselves from barking madly when someone comes to the door. The behavior of the dogs and the enabling of the Seinfeld family were changed.

The Coyote said...

If only you had an imaginary Mariachi band to provide a distraction. But that would likely get the wolf howling. So perhaps you should visit your local Acme Dynamite and Anvil shop.