Each day, all summer, I'd set out in my nine-and-half-foot, lime-green tub of a boat called, incongruously, Typhoon. Once past the harbor breakwater, I was at sea. I steered my bow through the swells toward the endless horizon.
I'd spend the day sailing out of sight of land, luxuriating in the feel of wind, sail, and boat; the gurgle of the bow wave, the gentle rocking motion. I'd while away countless hours imagining brave voyages and high adventures to all the distant ports that lay beyond. My possibilities seemed as boundless and infinite as the sea itself. "When I grow up I'll . . . ." Thoughts of my future soothed me like a mother's lullaby.
I was 9 years old, all alone, and felt completely safe.
That was then. Now I'm here on this eight-day Buddhist retreat doing walking meditation. But I'm lost in childhood reverie rather than mindfully staying present to the sensation of each single step. Supposedly, I've been training my brain to obey the simple teachings: be in the moment, the future is now, the past is gone, breath by breath, just this—nothing next. I'm not very good at it, and it's the last day. But what I know is that this stab of discouragement isn't the real low down truth, it's just another passing moment; a passing cloud obscuring the moon, the rustle of wind through the leaves. I smile. I love all the Buddhists clichés. Bumper sticker wisdom works for me.
I've been working hard on integrating Buddhist teachings and…