when the wise old guru said awakening is a separation from illusion and then posed an alternate question, “maybe it is a separation from reality”, i lost the thread. and then they all laughed with him like they all got it. you never know in those situations how many are laughing just because the teacher is chuckling and they want points for a display of tacit agreement like to say we completely agree with the head water buffalo. what frank magazine used to call fart catchers. possibly everyone else as confused as me. but did he mean that reality is already an illusion or what? one time there was a great pianist and he prepared us to listen to a composition by his former teacher who he held in highest esteem. he introduced the piece as something absolutely astonishing. predictably the semi circle of students acted in awe of the music. I was too young and nervous to admit it didn’t blow me away. I don’t mind telling the truth but who wants to feel publicly dumb? i waited for a private moment to ask why he insisted this was so shit hot, he replied he was just making it up, just wanted to see who’s on auto pilot and who’s actually listening. working with that guy was always like being inspector clouseau’s butler knowing at any minute a surprise attack might demolish the bedroom. it was more workable to separate myself from him. I couldn’t understand then that each mind is its own universe. just because you are in orbit of an asshole or a door-to-door canvaser for the liberal part or a clerk looking for your agreement when they make a hostile remark in a store, doesn’t mean you have to fight them or fear fighting them, like the old bathroom graffiti in the 3rd stall of the Winnipeg Curling rink in West Kildonan, “be in the world but not of it, sweep sweep sweep”.