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Post by MindTheGap » Sun Apr 24, 2016 6:02 am

I've got a situation...
I live alone, but I have three roommates.
The first one I've known for quite some time. We're not really friends, exactly. He kind of latched onto me and started following me around awhile back. I just got used to him, I guess. When I moved into my house he told me that if he was going to live with me, we were going draw up a rental agreement. Rent goes a long way towards paying off the mortgage, so, I thought, "Why not?"
"Hafta tell you what the terms are going to be." he said.
Sigh... "Okay, what ya got?"
"Every time my name is said, Hafta do what I say. Hafta agree to this, or I don't pay the rent."
Now I was in a pickle. The dude's name is Hafta. So, in my mind, I was already bound to the lease. 
See, Hafta and I go back a long way. He's been getting me to do things for a long, long time. I never had many friends, so Hafta's been a longtime companion. Sometimes I agree with him. Sometimes I don't. Nevertheless, whenever he says his name, I always agree to do what he says. I'd be lost without him.  
"Hafta get up. Hafta go to school."
"Yeah, yeah. Okay." I didn't much like school. I was very curious and very creative when I was young. I asked a lot of questions in class, which I now realize, bordered on what might be considered, "off topic". The response was a cold, uncaring, "Sit down and do the assignment." Then, the teacher would go on and on and on. Talking. She didn't care about what I wanted to know. She was there to teach me how to think. Later, after school, the kids would tease me: "Why don't you just shut up in class? You're so stupid." Often, it was more than just words. I got a black eye the first day of school. Yeah, I know! Only a black eye, that's all. Those were the good old days.
But, day after day, I got up and went to school; I did my homework; I picked up my room; because Hafta told me I had to do it. Nobody else. Just Hafta. It went like that, more or less. He kept me on track. He was a good companion. I wouldn't exactly call him a friend.
Like I said, I didn't have many friends.
Time passed. I grew up. Well, I grew older, anyway.
"Hafta go to work!"
Fear would grip me like a vice. What if I made a mistake? God, that would be awful! And things keep changing so fast. I try to keep up. I know that I know what I'm doing, but what if I forgot something? Or got into a situation that I just couldn't handle? What would happen to me? My head would start pounding and wouldn't stop. I felt nauseated, but it wasn't my guts I needed to spill. It was my heart.
So, I went to work. Sometimes, I felt I could handle it. Sometimes, I didn't. But, regardless, at 3:20 in the morning... "Hafta go to work!"
So, Hafta lives with me now. Still follows me around, wherever I go.
After awhile, living in the house, I got tired of the agreement. I started to find ways to manage my life without the rent money. "I can get by with a little less food. Or just pay the late fee on the utility bill, maybe. Sigh... maybe on the mortgage payment, if he doesn't remind me about it. He doesn't want us to be out on the street. I'd be a busker, but I can't sing or play guitar worth a shit."
(By the way... Please don't mention that to him...)
So, it kinda went like this:
"Hafta get the lawn mowed today."
"I hired a lawn service. They'll do it."
"Hafta pick up that empty two-liter bottle of soda."
"Recycling runs on Tuesdays. I'll pick it up then."
Now that, that kind of talk really pissed him off. So, he's got these two friends, see. He went to them and said, "Look, Hafta move in with me. Landlord's trying to squirm out of our agreement, so I need you guys to back me up." They looked at each other, rolled their eyes and agreed to do it. You see, I'm not the only one Hafta pulls this crap on.
So, Hafta comes up to me one day and says real sweetly, "Look, Hafta let these guys flop here for awhile. They've got nowhere else to go and, well, they're my friends." and here I thought Hafta and I knew each other so well. I never knew he had friends! I've been following his sage advice for years - and I've never seen these guys in my life! Well, till now, anyway.
They introduced themselves. Their names are Woulda and Coulda. They don't pay rent. So, it goes like this:
"Hafta go to work. The mortgage doesn't pay itself and, well, you don't get much income in the way of rent now, do ya?"
"Coulda had a better job." Comes the voice from the sofa. He's all sprawled out, reading a magazine. He doesn't even go to work.
"Woulda been better if you hadn't chosen to be a liberal arts major," comes the voice over by the TV. He's busy playing his Xbox. He's never been to school, or even read a book in his life, so far as I know.
"Coulda been a lawyer, or an architect or... Shit like that." comes from the sofa.
So, yeah, I go to my shitty job and make the money to pay the mortgage. At least I knew the rent money was coming in that month.
I really get tired of this crap. So, every once in awhile on my free time I manage to sneak out and go to this little dive of a restaurant I know. It's kind of seedy, but I feel comfortable there. I never really eat anything - just kind of hang out, away from home while Hafta bosses Woulda and Coulda around.
The place is called, "The Lazy Place".
I know a guy who hangs out there. Let's see if you can guess his name. I tell him, "Hafta this, Hafta that. God, I hate that guy."
"Relax!" my friend says, with a wink.
"But I've gotta do what he says or I'll end up in the gutter! I can't make the mortgage payment without the rent money!"
"Relax!" he says, with a slap on my back.
So, this went on for days. Well, months, really. Okay, okay... It went on for years. I got so miserable I lost track of time.
Well, one day I'm hanging out at Lazy Place, and in walks a friend of Relax. And for the first time, I find out he can say more than one word...
"S'okay!" he says, "Come on over here, I want you to meet a buddy of mine." I'm so startled by this sudden burst of locution from Relax that I'm really intrigued now. So I scoot over and make a place at the table. 
So, we get to talking for like, a really long time, and I find out S'okay is a really cool dude. He starts to help me see my predicament in a different way.
"Hafta this, Hafta that..." I start going on and on for the umpteenth time... He smiles this beneficent smile at me and says, "S'okay to look at things differently. Just breathe, be in the moment, and don't stew about it. Things will work themselves out if you can just, you know, stay with it. Be mindful, not mindless. Don't fly off in your head."
"Tell ya what. Relax and I are gonna come hang out with you for awhile. I think both of you need to get out of Lazy Place for awhile. Get some fresh air."
So, Relax and S'okay come over and hang around sometimes. I usually have to call them up because they know my house is crowded as it is. They help out a lot, though, when I can get them to come by for a visit. It helps to clear the air to have my own friends come over and give me some support:
"Hafta do the laundry."
"Woulda been easier if you'd done it a week ago." comes the voice from the couch, as he belches from the eighth piece of my pizza he's eaten in the last ten minutes.
"Coulda done it last Saturday," comes from the TV as he blasts another zombie. A TV (and an Xbox) that's running up the utility meter like a friggin slot machine at Vegas.
"Relax," comes a whisper in my ear. "Take a breath."
"S'okay," comes a whisper in the other, "You know what to say."
So, first I take a breath. Then, I say, "You know what?" I've got a month's worth of clean socks and underwear." Yeah... Okay. That idea came to me hanging out at Lazy Place. Still, it served me well in that instance. "That cuts my laundry load quite a bit. I think once I get that done, I'm gonna take a hike. Lit-er-a-ly. I'm going up on the mountain and hit the trails. Hafta come with me."
His eyes get big as saucers... "Haaaffffta...?"
"Yes. Hafta."
So, I got the laundry done, and I took Hafta on a hike with me. It was a great hike. Not so dry that the creeks weren't running and not so wet that the trails were muddy. I guess the weather had been nice for awhile. I hadn't noticed.
"Hafta look at this!" he said, excitedly. "Oh... Wow!" What a beautiful waterfall it was. It ran down slope in steps for about half a mile. The trail crossed it at a short stretch of stream before the next drop. Standing in that stream, it looked like the water just went on and on above you, on and on below you. It was truly beautiful. 
"Hafta take a picture of that!" he said.
"You didn't tell me to bring a camera," I said, sweetly. I was just breathing in, simply enjoying being in the present, the ephemeral moment. Memory would be my camera. I didn't have to capture it. It lived inside me now.
Hafta looked kind of sad. "Hafta bring one next time."
Hafta wanted to look at everything. Experience everything. And, Hafta wanted me to capture it all. "Hafta bring a camera next time!" he kept insisting, glumly. "It won't be like this next time." I said. "Remember that quote by Heraclitus from the pre-Socratics class in Philosophy? "You can never step in the same river twice; for the waters are ever flowing."
Hafta got really quiet for a while. Then he nodded.
We'd stayed out really late. It got dark. We had climbed all the way to the top of Sandrock Mountain to a bluff overlooking Smith Lake. There were no clouds, no moon: clear sky. The stars were reflected in the still waters in the lake. Lights from the town and homes around it all combined, in that clear, dark night to give the illusion that you were sitting there on the edge of the world, looking out into the infinite universe. But, it wasn't scary. It was full of potential. Who knew what was out there in the Great Big Night? Anything could happen.
I didn't want to jump. I wished I could fly.
I could hear Hafta breathing. There was a catch in his throat as he said, "Hafta be here, now."
I took a long, sweet breath. There were tears in my eyes. I said, "Hafta, just remind me of the things that need to get done, okay? Don't tell me what to do all the time."
"Hafta try - it won't be easy." Then, all of a sudden, he gave me a hug.
"Hafta... try. It'll get easier, eventually."


So, I've still got my roommates. Of course, Woulda and Coulda have ”got nowhere to go”, but they're not too happy about the living conditions. They still sit on the couch and eat some of my food and play Xbox all day. Their commentary still grumbles about the situation, on occasion. It kinda goes like this:
"Hafta remember you've got that appointment today." he says sweetly.
I take a deep breath. "Oh, I re-scheduled that to free up some time to work on some personal projects I've been meaning to do. I guess I forgot to tell you."
"Woulda forgot and run out of the house thinking you were late." he says with a taco half hanging out of his mouth. "Coulda looked like a fool if you did that!" he pumps his fist in the air as he levels up on his video game.
They grin at Hafta expectantly. Hafta just glares at them. There's a tense silence in the room. Then, he turns to me and says, "Hafta remember that, okay?" Now, I know he's telling me what to do. But, I don't mind it so much. I know it's because he cares about me.
"I'll try not to forget," I say. "Thanks for reminding me." It feels good to breathe and smile as I say these words. Hafta smiles back. "Hafta try to remember, okay?"
"S'okay." I say. He pokes his head out of the kitchen. He's in his stained apron and gives me a nod and a grin. "Attaboy," he says. 
Seems my friends have taken to giving me a new nickname.

I woke up one morning to find a little present on my nightstand, wrapped up all nice and neat with a little bow on top. I sat there a little perplexed. Hafta used to always wake me up. I just shrugged and opened the gift.
Under the wrapping paper was a nice wooden box, with the words engraved on the top: "OPEN AS NEEDED".
I lifted the lid. Inside was a mirror. I stared at my own reflection.
There were two words engraved on the mirror.

That's when I knew they'd been with me all along.
And now, as long as space endures, As long as there are beings to be found,
May I continue, likewise, to remain, To drive away the sorrows of the world.

- Shantideva: Bodhicharyavatara

In this world there is no man, there is no woman. There is no person, self or consciousness.
Man and woman are merely imputed and have no essence. Thus, the minds of worldly beings are mistaken.

- Wisdom Moon: now known as the Bodhisattva Tara

When there arises a gap in the mind...


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Post by bokki » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:33 pm

i just loged in coz
i hafta say
that is 1 piece of
the best writing iv read in years.
im glad to have stumbled into the post.
iv already read it a few times, thnx!
good work.
Another log on the fire,
10,000 frogs singing in the rain,
burst into flames.
- Linda Anderson

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