Men & Multitasking!

For Big Mac, the consequences of meditating while running were disastrous.


Bruce Pinnock |

Big Mac ran into a lamppost.

Running into things isn’t particularly unheard of. Objects such as cat’s eyes can rear up and trip even the most diligent runner; Zola Budd’s outflung bare feet once took out fellow Olympian Mary Decker Slaney.

I myself have collided with a stationary taxi.

Lampposts, taxis and Budd’s size nines are (usually) hard to miss. But should your mind be fully occupied with meditative thoughts such as Will I get to the top of this hill?, you might not notice obstacles until it’s too late… Boom! Crash!

You stagger backwards, and then sit down abruptly, holding your painful pip. You express yourself in the same language a seagull uses after it has flown into the side of a cliff.
“FAAARK!” it exclaims – loudly, and in an aggrieved tone.

But I digress. Big Mac ran into a lamppost.

It all started when his doctor advised him to take up yoga – or some other relaxing pursuit, such as chess. But yoga and chess weren’t sound options, on account of his large body and small brain size respectively. Alternatively, Kosie suggested, he could learn to relax through the medium of Zen meditation. But meditation while sitting – known among Zen scholars as arZen – simply wouldn’t do.
So under Kosie’s watchful guidance, Big Mac (foolishly) took up ‘slow running meditation’, which Kosie called ‘hamba slo-moZen’.

Always up for a laugh, us back-of-the-packers tagged along. The pair did not disappoint.
Kosie was wrapped in an old white dressing gown – which, he informed us, is what venerable Zen masters wear. He insisted Big Mac run with his eyes closed, to ensure ‘meditative serenity’.

Big Mac set off, eyes shut tight.

“No peeping!” Kosie scolded. “Think meditative thoughts. Find serenity! Find your inner peace!”
To us, it sounded more like sniffer-dog training than Zen.

So involved in his role was Kosie that he failed to notice the lamppost in Big Mac’s path. But the reality was, Kosie was no Zen master: he was but a man, and multitasking had stretched his capabilities.

The lamppost certainly stretched Big Mac’s capabilities.

He bounced off it, with a resounding ‘bonk!’ Then he landed. On his backside. “Ooof!”

Kosie was unfazed by this setback. Palms together in prayer position, he bowed reverently to Big Mac, who (perhaps luckily) was still prostrate. At this juncture Big Mac rose to his feet, rubbing his head vigorously. He turned on Kosie, throwing him an accusatory glare.

“Why the hell didn’t you warn me about that lamppost?” he demanded to know, his voice strangely devoid of the Zen serenity Kosie had worked so hard to achieve. “And why are you bowing to me?!”

“I am respecting you,” Kosie replied solemnly. “It was I who put the lamppost there, in order to test you. Your task was to stay focused on your inner serenity, no matter what obstacles stood in your way.
“Congratulations!” he continued. “The next stage is to run, meditating so deeply that you can hear the sound of one hand clapping –”

“One hand clapping?” Big Mac interrupted. “All I’ve heard so far – not to mention felt – is the sound of my own head banging against a ruddy lamppost!

“And if I have anything to do with it, the next sound you’ll hear is the sound of my foot kicking your arse!” he threatened, advancing on Kosie-the-venerable-Zen-master with intent.

At that, the Zen master turned tail and hauled his arZen down the road, dressing gown flapping in the wind, with his irate erstwhile student in hot pursuit.

It would appear the art of slow running isn’t always conducive to ‘inner-peaZen and calmZen-ness’.

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