Two more memories floated to the surface during meditation in the last week or two. The first dealt with Jerry, a man who I had almost forgotten. I had met him at my first job at Super-K, where I worked with my mother. She worked the kiosk; I was stock boy for the deli.
During that time a lot was going on inside of me — I was inundated with flashbacks, had stopped sleeping and people, here and there, however few and far between, evidently noticed something was amiss. One such person was Jerry, maybe in his thirties. He had dark blond or light brown hair, a full beard, and kind, though sort of solemn, eyes. He seemed more “aware” or “awake” than most; perhaps what I now understand as mindful.
One day he caught me in the cooler and handed me a book. It was The Tao of Inner Peace by Diane Dreher. He said he had gotten out of the book what he could and felt that it might be right for me. I thanked him considerably.
I never got far into reading the book, as what I had read of it just did not speak to me at the time. Occasionally I would pick it up and skim the pages. For years I recalled but one quote from the book, and when I pulled it off my bookshelf again last night, I found it. It was the heading for chapter 10, entitled “Exploring Your Dualities: Yin and Yang.” The quote was a translation of Chapter 42 of the Tao Te Ching:
The Tao is the One.
From the One comes yin and yang;
From these two, creative energy;
From energy, ten thousand things,
The forms of all creation.
All life embodies yin
And embraces yang,
Through their union
A few days after he had given me the book I had found out, through my mother and by listening to the typical shit-talk at work, that Jerry had quit his job, left his wife and child and had run off with some young, hot coworker. Everyone damned him in that typical, reactionary way, as if they had the vaguest clue as to the true nature of his circumstances — what was going on at home, in his life, in his heart and in his head. It was all judgement void of empathy, void of any attempt to understand. I never found out what had actually happened — I never saw him again — but I felt for him in a way. People rarely took the time to understand. They didn’t want to understand.
I think I could have saved myself a lot of pain and suffering if I had just let that insight sink in.
Perhaps he did what he did because it was his way of finding balance or inner peace. Maybe he had one hell of a Jungian Shadow. Perhaps he had fought it and lost, or fought it and won. In any case, he seemed to recognize that I was in the midst of wrestling with my own.
Maybe there was no real reason behind remembering this. Still, I think I’ll try giving that book a read-through again.