Chapter Four

A Buddha In My Junior High School

Mika had plenty of friends but, to be honest, she was not the most social girl in school. She did not always feel the need to be bubbly and giggly and to talk about rock music and sports stars. Sometimes, she preferred to be quiet and alone. On one such day, instead of going to the lunch room, which was always frantic and noisy, she decided to eat her lunch on the grass near a shade tree and just relax.

A friend, seeing Mika sitting alone, walked over and sat down near her. “What are you doing here alone” he asked.

“Nothing,” she replied.

“That’s silly,” he said. “It’s impossible to do nothing. You are always doing something.”

Mika thought a moment. “I suppose you are right. I’m breathing,” she said.

“Well,” he said. “I guess that’s pretty close to doing nothing.”

“And I’m watching,” Mika added. “I’m watching the leaves move in the breeze. And I’m watching the birds in the sky. And I’m watching the squirrel in the tree.” 

“You’re kinda strange, Mika” he said. “First, you said you were doing nothing and then you said you were doing all these different things….but really, it does sorta seem like you are doing nothing.”

“When I listen to my own breathing and I watch all the things around me that are moving, I really feel like I’m alive. It feels like the whole world is alive and I’m part of it. It makes me feel really good even though I’m doing nothing,” she said.

Her friend said “Now you are really confusing me. I don’t know if you are doing something or doing nothing and yet you tell me you are feeling really alive and good. Pretty strange, Mika.”

“Maybe you should try it,” she said. 

“No. Too weird” he replied.

“Well, instead of watching all the things that are moving, maybe you should try watching all the things that are not moving.”

“Heck no” he said. “If watching things that move make you feel alive, I guess watching things that don’t move make you feel dead…. And I definitely do not want to do that.”

“Actually,” Mika went on, “observing the things that don’t move makes me feel very safe and secure. The mountains don’t move. Big tree trunks don’t move. The earth around me doesn’t move. When I watch those things, I feel like the world is a safe place and I feel like I am part of it. That feels good. Also, I think these things were here before I was born and they will still be here when I am gone so I’m comfortable being part of that world.”

The friend looked at Mika and said, “You are the strangest person I know but it feels good to be here with you. Is it OK if I sit here and do nothing with you for a while?”