Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hello, Mr. Krishnamurti

I was just up in Ojai for a few days. R&R for my wife, not me. I don't need no stinkin' R&R, but Bianca works 8-5 like a real person while I sit home and try to rhyme the word "orange" with . . . well, something. I'm convinced it can be done.

Ojai is still the home of a Krishnamurti center. Mr. K. was a very smart guy with no narrow agenda about spirituality. (He's worth reading about.) Here's my favorite Krishnamurti story: he leaves the small community of disciples (though he didn't like followers) for awhile and when he comes back this guy we'll call Joe is missing. Mr. K. asks where Joe is and learns that the others have asked him to leave. Joe was a pain in the ass: selfish, overbearing, and a general killjoy. Mr. K. goes right into town, finds Joe and brings him back, pointing out that Joe was the one person everyone could learn from. To someone like Krishnamurti, a well-oiled community with no conflict was a sign of narcosis brought on by self-satisfaction.

Here's the point -- where in your stories or novels or picture books is Joe? Where's the thorny, difficult person everyone has to live with?

If you'd like an exercise, try this one: have every important person in your story carry on a conversation with Joe. Write fast. I think you'll be surprised when a character you thought of as sweet and benign turns out to hate Joe while some recalcitrant s.o.b. reveals a tenderness and understanding you never suspected was there.

1 comment:

  1. Great story, Ron. It does remind me of one of the Buddah's stories about the Practice in Patience where this water buffalo puts up with an irritating monkey. When a sky god flies down and asks why he puts up with the monkey when he could kill him with his strength, the buffalo replies, "The monkey is teaching me patience. We all need a monkey." The sky god says that he wants to learn patience. The buffalo replies, "you'll need a very good monkey. You can have mine." The sky god flies away not ready to take on the monkey. I like to think of my writing practice as a monkey. It teaches me a lot about patience. I'm going to try your exercise.