am finding my religion. Everyday brings another revelation. I mean,
the room can’t get any brighter. But I’d like a little
shade. I am learning so much, so fast, that my transcendence feels
like skydiving. I’ve gotta relax and you can’t
mellow without a mantra.
mantra can be an unintelligible word, a concrete idea or a vague notion.
It can even be an action.
say a mantra should be given to you. As I was waiting for mine, I had
a few ideas on what makes a good one:
A good mantra would be universal, something that all creeds and cultures
can sink their teeth into. It must be a truth that has no room for
debate or bloodshed.
It has to be simple, so I can remember it. A ‘Triple A’ Mantra
should stay in the headlights.
There should be a pleasure principle. It’s gotta feel better
than it hurts; the heaven should outweigh the hell.
This Mantra must be convenient and fast. I have a problem with the
Islamic prayer schedule. Five times a day is redundant, a real time
killer and hard to schedule around, especially during the cocktail
hour. Conversely, the old Christian once-a-week is a long
time between a good idea.
Enlightenment should be time and cost-effective. Tom Barrack, the surfer/real
estate king, speaks of a “Karma Bank.” My mantra has gotta
be a direct deposit.
And, it’s gotta be cheap. I'm an artist for God's sake. With
the high cost of DSL, wartime and greenhouse gasses, I really can’t
afford anything like the Mormon Commission, the Episcopal Clip or the
Pre-Tax Tithe. Plus, there’s my bartender to consider.
I was, a man in need of a mantra. Suddenly, just when I needed it most, Fortuna graced
me with one.
morning, just before I woke up, Rey Ray made a guest star appearance
in a dream. He had a walk-on, without dialogue. Rey
Ray was my best pal’s great-uncle. King Ray was a family man,
congenial and hard working. I had a great fondness for him. And respect,
for he served bravely in the Second World War. Ray
was always great to me. We both shared the love of a cold beer and
a hot tamale.
can’t recall the context of the dream, but I remember that I was
standing on the deck of a burning galleon. I looked up and saw Rey Ray
on the quarterdeck. Rubbing his round belly, the old man looked around,
saw me and smiled. Johnny Cash wrote a soulful song called 'A Satisfied
Mind.' Rey Ray had the grin of a man with a satisfied mind. He winked,
raised his arms above his head and flew into the night sky.
little later, I woke up with the feeling that everything was gonna be
OK. To see Rey Ray, I was reminded of a Life Lesson that I had learned
from him. His sentiment would become my mantra.
remembered, at his funeral several years back, Rey Ray’s daughter
recalled the rigors of a typical family picnic. Once they arrived at
the park, big daddy Rey Ray would command all of his kids and a couple
dozen cousins to clean up the area. It’s hard to enjoy the beauty
of nature when you are looking at someone else’s trash. (At a picnic,
I’d rather deal with hungry ants but these days, you better look
out for used condoms, spent shell casings or rusty heroin needles.)
the kids chafed at the chore, but they understood that a clean camp
made their picnic more enjoyable.
real mutiny began when the day was done and the car was loaded. Rey
Ray told the kids to clean up the campsite, again. A cranky
chorus protested the injustice. Why tidy up when we are
cutting out? The kids wisely argued that they were leaving a place
as they had found it. But Rey Ray didn’t see it that way. He
commanded the kids that they would leave the place better than
they had found it.
a frame of mind! This is the mantra I had been looking for.
Than. It even has a whiff of elitism!
Than is beauty, symmetry and function. It’s egalitarian. It’s
not limited to five times a day.
I live Better Than and treat people Better Than,
I might even stop kicking the dog. If you can pull it off over
an entire day, you are practically guaranteed Life’s
greatest reward, a Good Night’s Sleep. The Karma Bank would
like anything worthwhile, it requires some courage and purposeful
tidy little package, Better Than is an attitude with clear
want to leave everywhere I go, better than I found it.
want to leave everyone I meet, better for the encounter.
Better Than is fortunato. It could even end wars.
The Fellowship of Fortuna
GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist. His visual and literary work can
be found at www.GordyGrundy.com. He reads most Sundays at the Little Joy.
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