Nominally, it’s the last day of another year. Does it really matter which one? Day follows night, season follows season, it’s a perpetual cycle. Only humans manage to number the years in their minds, as if there was some sort of linear progression, the significance of which would confirm their enduring existence, the existence of their story.
Here in the SaveMart parking lot, we like to watch people going in and out of the supermarket. It’s a supermarket, as opposed to an ordinary market, so we know we are parked in the right lot for current purposes. It’s New Years Eve, so of course everyone is gathering celebratory provisions. We needed a sharp cheddar cheese for tomorrow’s souffle.
Today our little dog is in my arms, avidly enjoying the parade of phenomena with me. She is watching every person as they come and go, each with their own story — there are so many stories! Each story is God having a different experience of itself, so all is sacred. Since all is sacred, then nothing is really sacred. To my little dog, “sacred” is meaningless, and yet she will endure any of my human contrivances because it feels good to just press herself against me, snuggle up in my arms, and feel warm and safe.
We say “God”, but isn’t that just a way of cleverly attributing an identity to this utter chaos, in order to grant it some sense of structure by which we can shop for cheese and celebrate our idea of time, change, and people-watching in the parking lot? What could be more fascinating than just resting as this awareness in which the whole universe goes about its business in incomprehensible delight and confusion, terror and ecstasy, boredom and doubt, joy and sorrow, while we get to both observe and participate?
My little dog shifts in her position, probably to get a better look at the other little dog at the window of the car adjacent to us. They gaze at each other, and although we might imagine we know what kind of data is exchanged, we still do not even understand the experience of staring into another human’s eyes. For a moment, the mind goes blank. That is a holy moment, even though we have already determined that holy is just another construct of the human intellect. Still, it just might be the moment when the whole universe becomes suddenly self-aware. That’s why the mind cannot go there, and so we say that it “goes blank”.
I could say something here about emptiness, but anything said about emptiness is just another mental fabrication, and so has nothing to do with emptiness. That said, emptiness is not separate from these experiences. It is not other than the parking lot stories in which everyone seems engrossed in their moment, experiencing a sense of individuality, and then creatively elaborating on that theme.
Even so, in our hearts, we all want to be home in the safe place, where the divine universe bends down to wrap its big warm arms around us and kiss us and demonstrate how everything is only love, love beyond mental contrivance or narrative theatrics.
And so we drift around with our shopping carts in the dreaming place, the indefinite place where we just might find ourselves parked today, on the eve of yet another new year in timelessness, serenely rotating in an immense and luminous galaxy in the midst of a vast emptiness, with nothing holy in it. Once we pay the cashier for the cheese, we can happily drive away home.