Ezy Reading:
'Let's Get Zenny'
Evan Kanarakis & Pete Kelly



This past month my good friend Pete Kelly passed away here in Portland, Maine. Pete was a true one-of-a-kind original: born in Zambia, he lived for a time as a child in Ireland before his family moved to America, which is where he began his lifelong love with Maine and the ocean. Pete first and foremost always identified himself a fisherman, but he was also a talented painter and a gifted writer. His sharp, biting wit, great sense of humor and unique, often irreverent perspectives on life kept me entertained for hours on end. He will be sorely missed.

I wanted to share with Cud readers just one of Pete's many short pieces that does a great job of summing up his 'philosophy' on life. Enjoy.


Let's Get Zenny
Pete Kelly

It's difficult to go without it, my daily dose of Zen. It seems I can’t walk by or into the nearest coffee shop without being exposed to some form of it- posters on the walls or windows, all advertising the latest New Age trend. Yesterday I saw a large poster on a noticeboard advertising the latest new Zen workshop. It showed a large photo of some Oriental dude (perfect, right?) and the print underneath it said “FREE YOUR MIND FROM ITS PRISON!”
The Oriental guy had a real serene look on his face (probably stoned). I suspect this guy has at least a little business acumen, but I’m pretty sure he also still keeps a night job washing dishes. But get this: he’s charging two hundred and fifty dollars for a one-hour session of New Age hocus-pocus!
So for anyone signing up, don’t forget your bus pass, ‘cause you’re going for a ride…

I have never thought of my mind as a prison. For me, it’s just a place to go, to think, create, and ponder smut! I don’t feel incarcerated, and I’m not going to put up that kind of money to bail myself out of a place I’m not trapped in to begin with!

When I got to thinking about this I was reminded of a conversation I had when I ran into a friend on the street a while ago. We started talking, and for some reason the conversation turned towards religion (we usually talk about chicks), and he brought up monks, the Dalai Lama, etc… So my question was, “Alright, what’s the deal with these guys, what are they up to?”
And he replied, “I guess they’re looking for Nirvana.” (‘Perfect peace’, I think).
I said, “Nirvana, huh? You know it’s not like these guys have three kids, a beat up old car and a mortgage to worry about… These guys live on mountaintops and peaceful hillsides, live on rice, and, from what I know, they don’t even speak to each other.” (But I bet they do! I bet they talk about chicks and American Idol).
“Look,” I added. “I have an idea for these guys who are searching for some sort of internal peace. Why not at least make it interesting if it’s peace they’re looking for. How about getting them to do a couple of lines of brown heroin. Two sniffs and presto! They’re in Tibet! Or, if it’s isolation they’re after, why not add a little excitement, maybe steal a car, or rob a bank? I’m sure the Feds would be glad to take them to a place where they could stay for ten or twenty years in relative isolation. They’d even have their very own potty and a place to hang up their robe! And they’d be fed to boot- even rice if they wanted it…”

But like I said, this kind of stuff is everywhere. I do try, but I can’t seem to stay clear of it. It’s unavoidable, even in my own neighborhood. There’s this one guy I’m always bumping into, and when I see him he always wants to give me a hug. So I do what I always do, I step back and ask him why, and he says he wants to ‘cleanse my aura’. I don’t go for it, and he gets upset.
But there’s always a champion way to defend every absurdity, and before he walks off, I offer him, “If it’s hugs you want to pass around, go to an AA meeting, that’s what they do there, they pray and hug each other. And as far as my own aura is concerned, it is usually covered in grease, oil and dirt, so spare me the hugs- soap and water works just fine!”

I know that the whole self-help/Zen industry has been around for a long time –hundreds of years- and I’ve even tried it myself. But it’s like talking to a government agency. You get the same answers.

I read a magazine article recently, I can’t recall where, but it was about a group of Americans –moneyed Americans- who had signed up for an extended stay in the desert. This was no ordinary trip, though, these folks were going to live like monks in separate huts, on a sparse diet, no talking to each other, etc…
The whole deal –or ordeal- was supposed to last about eighteen months. Think about it: eighteen months with no talking and no Oprah (who probably talked them into it in the first place).
I suspect it might be harder to live with nine people for that long than to live with nine million. I’ll give this experiment three weeks on the outside before the ambulances start arriving. Why, once they start having a little time alone without their iPods, with no flat screen televisions or take-out food it’ll be chaos, surely! I don’t see it happening, no way.

The more I write about this, the more I wonder why anyone would go to such excessive lengths to access things so far-fetched, abstract, and spiritually mindless, that it defies the simplest reason. So instead of looking in strange, far-fetched places, maybe we should look inward a little more often, instead of being blown around by the next idiot wind that comes along. As for me, I’ve leafed through enough New Age garbage to know that all it does is confuse me, and I’ve also found that the one thing that frightens me are people who think they have all the answers!

I suppose I could go on about this for hours but I’ll spare you the agony. I do want to leave you with one last little story, though… Last week I was walking down the street when this old guy came towards me riding a bicycle (badly). He was all over the road. He came up to me and hobbled to a stop, and then asked for directions to the ‘mindfulness, wakefulness workshop’ (I’m not making this up).
So I did what I always do when someone asks me for directions:

I gave him the wrong ones.

And, as the guy pedaled away from me, he yelled out, “Does it matter which way I go?”
To which I yelled back, “Not to me it don’t!”



Ezy Reading is out every month. Seen your comments to feedback@thecud.com.au