Ezy Reading:
Of Terrifying My New Neighbour with a Desert Eagle and Finding Some Zen Happiness
Evan Kanarakis

My beloved Boston Celtics lost this weekend to the Indiana Pacers in a best of seven series that had been forced to game seven in the first round of the NBA playoffs. I'll spare you the details about how we could have and should have won, how the series was a reflection of the team's entire season -one in which flashes of amazing potential and inspirational, gutsy effort were overshadowed by inconsistency, bone-headed mistakes and painful immaturity. If you're really that interested to read about it then go here, otherwise all you need know is that when I got home last night rather chipper and a few beers in the tank after being at a mate's BBQ for the day and learned about the team's defeat, I impulsively screamed out 'OH, FOR FUCK'S SAKE!!' at the top of my voice, which also happened to be the exact same moment my new neighbour had decided to knock on the front door and introduce himself. It was truly brilliant coincidental timing. Things were made markedly worse, however, when I then also unintentionally answered the door holding an exact replica of a Desert Eagle hand-gun I'd left lying around since pulling out the old toy for use on a friend's film set a few days earlier. Hey, let's remember, I was, as I mentioned, with 'a few beers in the tank', and not exactly thinking straight. The gun had been sitting on our coffee table and while sitting on the couch and watching highlights of the Celtic's grief I'd unconsciously been fiddling around with it.

It's little surprise then, that when I swung open the door my new neighbour, pale and twitching, was already slowly retreating down our front steps and apologising for bothering me on a Sunday night. I tried reassuring him he'd merely caught me at a bad moment and that I really wasn't about to unload eight rounds into his torso, but it didn't seem to stop him literally sprinting back to the safety of his own home. I can only assume he won't be around anytime soon to ask if he could borrow a cup of sugar.

Anyway, lost in the deep, black misery of another disappointing Celtics season I inexplicably got to contemplating my Zen moments. Those few key experiences, sensations or occasionally recurring emotions that somehow manage to elevate and rejuvenate your spirit. I don't think I'm necessarily talking about what it is that takes people to their 'happy place', I believe that's something that has more to do with intense psychotherapy and pink pills that make you feel like the world is a soft cushion. Nor am I about to regurgitate old Charles Schulz 'Happiness is a warm puppy' fuzzy-moment material. Then again, who knows? Perhaps I really am being a tad over'sentimental and should immediately apologise for reducing Ezy Reading to syrup; syrup brought on by a desperate man seeking much'needed solace from basketball'induced depression. Pathetic, really.

Still, at the risk of sounding too Platonic, if absolute happiness doesn't exist, then the moments I'm thinking of are those that irrespectively manage to get you as close to the ultimate sublime as is possible. Some may linger for a few fleeting seconds; perhaps merely a hint of a familiar scent or a moment of déjà vu that sends one to a familiar, comfortable time in their past. Others may well provide that sense of wellbeing, contentment or reassurance for days, while others still may quite literally take years to rediscover. Last night, for me, joy came in the form of listening to the album 'Together We're Heavy' by the Polyphonic Spree.

Paul Pierce's disgraceful implosion in Game 6 suddenly became a distant memory. The intense promise of Game 4 no longer mattered. Antoine Walker wasn't haunting me any more with his questionable three'point judgement, and Mark Blount would never again be the cancer that was eroding my faith in all that is just and fair in the world. I was happy and at peace. Already, I looked forward to next season and excitedly contemplated the prospects of Celtic management dumping Blount's swollen contract into a sewer and continuing to develop the enormous talents of young Al Jefferson. I pondered the possibilities of what the team might be able to do with just one more vital piece falling into place' something perhaps only a minor trade away from fulfilment. And then, away 'far away' from the Celtics, I soon took stock in the happier rewards of the Patriots, the Red Sox, and the NSW Waratahs. My blood pressure normalised and my temper and disappointment subsided.

I was 'Zenning'.

And, save for a panic-stricken neighbour now madly dialling the police, things were just fine.

Anyway, in honour of the Celtics' season coming to an end in seven games, here are seven of my personal all'time Zen moments:

1) City lights as seen from an aeroplane. Not sure what it is, perhaps a hangover from my youth when we'd so often fly back into Boston and Athens on evening flights after years of being away in Australia. I'd leer out the window for hours, waiting and watching as the lights became closer, and closer, as did that moment of being reunited with my family.

2) The expectant moment just before a movie starts in a dark theatre. It makes me want to get cracking and write.

3) Standing in the middle of an excited crowd, the warm glow of four or five beers in the system, and watching the band well and truly rock'out on stage. Always followed by a hangover the next day.

4) The Red Sox hammering the Yankees. Or any other favourite team knocking out a rival for that matter. Just fantastic.

5) Finding that sweet groove on the basketball court where you could close your eyes, light a cigarette and still never miss a shot (believe me, this one is rare, and the aches and pains in my body seem to be fighting off any chance of it every happening again).

6) Sunsets. Man, I have to admit it, I'm a sucker for sunsets (plus I'm never awake in time to see the sunrise). In the middle of winter in Bathurst the sunsets from the edge of the Maranatha Cemetery are about as inspiring as it gets (Ahem, and now how about we swiftly move on and forget that I just referenced sunsets as one of my Zen moments. Sheesh, what is up with me??...).

7) Waking up on Crowninshield Street in Peabody, Massachusetts to the welcoming aromas of my grandmother Helen's cooking in the Warren Lunch next door. Often accompanied by Helen snapping out, "I'm busy, so just tell me what you want off the menu board and stay outta' my way! And I don't want to see anything left on the plate!" You're missing out if you never ate Helen's extraordinary serves of turkey pot-pie while she stood over your shoulder and assessed whether you'd eaten enough.

Have a few of your own Zen moments you'd like to share? Drop Evan a line at evan@thecud.com.au

Ezy Reading is out every Monday.