buddha-1“How long’s he been sitting under that tree for now?”

“It’s been three weeks”

His mother stared out through the kitchen window whilst doing the washing up

“Three weeks since he turned up unannounced telling me he’d left Angela and the kids, resigned from his job and was going to sit under that tree until he’d found the answers to what causes suffering and how he could alleviate it”

She’d been washing the same plate for the past five minutes

“It’s never right Alice. I mean just walking out on your wife and job like that. He must be having some sort of midlife crisis or breakdown”

Her friend stood beside her looking out of the window

“Angela has said she’ll have to sell the flat because she can’t keep it going on just her wage unless he sorts himself out and goes back to work”

They both sat down at the kitchen table and tucked into the freshly baked Victoria Sponge

“I blame that corporate responsibility day for all of this when he went to that homeless shelter. He’d never encountered alcoholics and drug addicts before and it seemed to send him over the edge”

His mother dabbed at the corner of her mouth with her napkin to remove the jam

“He kept going on about money and materialism and how if he could only find a way to help human kind understand what caused their suffering how he’d be able to save them”

Her friend finished her cake and went back to look at him

“Well that’s all well and good Alice but he’s got a wife, children and responsibilities. Perhaps he could phone his boss and explain that it’s all been a mistake and get his old job back. Perhaps a stay somewhere with people who can help him and some medication would do the trick”

She went over to her friend, placing a hand upon her shoulder

“The sooner you can get him the help he needs Alice the better as putting it off any longer is only going to make matters worse”

His mother stood up and picked up the phone hanging on the wall

“I know you’re right but it doesn’t make it any easier” she said as she dialled the number

“Which emergency service do you require please?”

She wiped away her tears and took a deep breath

“Police and ambulance please. I need to get my son sectioned”


Weirdy Beardy

It’s only when you grow a big beard that you tend to notice the feĺlow beardy’s around you. Conversations are struck up with perfect strangers about how long they’ve been growing it, grooming tips or generally to complement one another

The man in the coffee shop had a magnificent growth that had the unusual distinction of being both groomed  and unkempt at the same time. This is what first drew my attention to him. The second was the fact that he communicated by writing on index cards to the staff to make an order

When he first sat down on the opposite table I pointed to his beard and gave him a thumbs up sign. He smiled and returned the gesture. He then held up a beautifully written card that read “It’s instruction time” and closed his eyes

For the next ten minutes he sat in peaceful contemplation, a slight smile on his lips, nodding to himself from time to time. He then opened his eyes and began to write in a journal, drinking his coffee in between pages. When he’d finished his writing he got up, showed a card that said ‘Goodbye’ and left

This routine continued for the next few weeks without fail. A thumbs up, holding up his card, ten minutes meditation, a few pages of writing. It wasn’t until one day that I happened to sit closer to him that I noticed the movement in his beard. It was just before he started his routine and at first I thought it was a trick of the light

buddhaBut looking closer I saw something climbing slowly up, hand over hand, towards his left ear. As it reached his earlobe I could clearly see it was a tiny buddha that poked its head into his ear. My bearded friend closed his eyes and started to smile. I took it that the little figure was chatting to him, giving him advice and instructions which he would write down when he’d finished

I couldn’t take my eyes off the scene unfolding in front of me. The figure continued to talk to him for ten minutes before slowly climbing back down into the hairy undergrowth. When the man opened his eyes he noticed me staring. Instead of writing he smiled at me and left

The next day he wasn’t there nor the day after. On the third day when I arrived one of the staff handed me a small box.

‘The man with the beard and the cards popped in earlier and wrote that he wanted you to have this’

I sat down with my coffee and opened the box. There sat a tiny, smiling buddha  looking up at me with outstretched arms. A beautifully written card was also placed inside that simply read

‘It’s instruction time’