Dennis O’Neil: Zen Denver
Yesterday, just outside Denver, I went through an area I must have gone through long ago. My friend and I were a couple of footloose ramblers with no money in an interstice of time between being in thrall to one authoritarian institution, a Catholic university, and another, the United States Navy. (You wanna salute? Go ahead – salute!) We were hitchhiking back from San Francisco because…well, hey, it was good enough for Jack Kerouac and besides, if you’re not going to do stupid and dangerous things when you’re young, when you gonna do them?
(Parenthetical digression: Hitchhiking was stupid and dangerous back in 1961 and it’s way, way more stupid and dangerous now, and if our luck had veered a bit we could have suffered dreadfully. So don’t do it.)
Where was I? Oh yeah, in Colorado getting busted by a state cop.
But, as it happened, the cop was from Missouri as were we, and so, instead of depositing us in the slammer, he flagged down a Greyhound bus and asked the driver to haul us east. The rest of the adventure went well.
As I looked outside the car window yesterday, nothing seemed familiar except those magnificent mountains in the distance. But why would it? A half century-plus had passed and Colorado, along with everything else, had changed and my memory probably wasn’t reliable when I was 22 and is absolutely not reliable now. (Reality may or may not not be malleable, but the truth? That’s generally open to interpretation.)
We were coming from the Denver Comic Con and a pleasant weekend. We were expecting the show to pull in…I don’t know… a couple-three thousand fans? But there was the energy of over 50,000 attendees percolating through the Colorado Convention Center. Plus a lot of comics guys and a whole lot of dealers. And a full complement of celebrities. This was only the second year the con was held. In its infancy and already a monster.
There was a lot to like, but what most pleased us, both at the con and the Hyatt across the street, where we stayed, was the pervasive atmosphere of courtesy. Everyone was extremely polite and extremely nice. Many of the fans who came for autographs thanked me warmly for, let’s face it, not doing much more than signing my name, a trick most third graders have mastered. They also thanked us for coming to Denver – not necessary, because Denver itself had already taken care of that.
In the airport, I was astonished and delighted to see, in large, bas relief lettering, this quotation from Zen master Thich Naht Hanh: I have arrived. I am home. My destination is in each step. Appropriate, but not what you’d expect in a thriving center of commercial journeying.
Then we went over, and past, the geography I’d traveled long ago and when we arrived at our house everything was in good order. Life can be okay. Just remember that the step you’re taking is your destination.
RECOMMENDED READING: Google something like Thich Naht Hanh quotes. Read a few, or a few dozen. Then you might want to try one of his many books.
FRIDAY: Martha Thomases
SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman