nofrota 3

February 15, 2010 - One Response

Work is kicking my ass.  Not only that, but I am learning that I know very little and feel somewhat that the direction of my stories are a little too preachy based on how much I know about the Zen perspective.  I will take a break from this for an uncertain amount of time to reconsider things.  I think I will return with the same characters and take them in a new direction, creating more of a narrative than I’ve had so far.

Sorry about the change, but I don’t think this is the last you’ll see of me.  I’ll keep you posted.



note from the author (nofrota) 2

February 13, 2010 - Leave a Response

I just started my cooking job a couple of days ago.  if there is a scarcity of stories that is why.  I will sit down some today and on monday to catch up.  Sorry about the delays.  I’ve got to get used to two jobs.  It’s exciting to be cooking and teacher, and I am viewing it not as work but as life enrichment.  That’s what a job should be.


keith’s empty response

February 9, 2010 - Leave a Response

Keith admired Lily-in-the-Tree.  He pushed a seed into the ground and bellowed:

“Noble?  Who is noble?  I am neither noble nor ignoble, Lilith!  When I breathe, do I say “in” or “out”?  Is it when I take out a piece of the air, or when I put it back in?  Wouldn’t it be foolish to think either way was it?  It’s your mind that makes me righteous or evil.

“I’m looking at you now, and you are so high up! But you’re a bombing run to that crow above your head.  Which one of us sees the Lily?  We both see her and neither one of us sees her.

“The seed I hold between my fingers is as large as Betelgeuse, to whom our planet is a speck.  The universe we see is six feet by six feet, ten miles by ten miles, a galaxy wide, out to the empty reaches of space, and then the wall- fourteen billion light-years.  Some say it too is like the seed between my fingers.  So what is it, exactly?

“It’s nothing, Lil!  Beyond the imaginary world in our head, it’s nothing to us!  But it is something else entirely.  You’re right- the world is a lie!  Everyone’s lying and nobody gets it.  Did someone ever tell you that God had a plan for your life?  They told me and they were wrong. “God is the universe, and the universe is God.” It’s everything and absolutely nothing.  It’s the American Dream, your wedding, a cool glass of water, and vegans.  God is the beautiful lesbian that hides in your brain!  God is the murderer on death row in Texas.  God is the tree in your hands and the joy that you feel.  God is the earthquake in Haiti and a deadbeat dad.  God doesn’t  love you!  And He doesn’t hate you either!  That’s the Gospel!  Congratulations, Lil: you’re free!  Do what’s best- be skillful.  Just don’t think I’m noble, you dirty, sappy hippie!”

Lily looked peacefully down at Keith toying, “Kee-Kee!  I’m not a hippie!”

The three of us laughed, I farted an old man’s fart, and the crow raised his ebony wings.  He cawed and his branch curtsied as he fell.

lily’s speech on the unreality of self

February 9, 2010 - Leave a Response

Lily climbed a tree and yelled to us in the garden:

“Hi-O!  Listen up kids!  I’m not on the ground anymore, I’m not in the dirt!  I’m in the air and in a tree- we’re dancing and making love.  It’s like you said: you grasp, and it’s out of your hands.  The tree is not in my hands, and the dirt was never under my fingernails.  My feet rest on nothing!  It is all spinning out of control!  Do you want an easy life, you ninnies?!  Nothing is easy and safe at eighteen miles a second!  I sway in the tree, I sink in the mud; I am a wild and vast potential!

And then I wondered: Can people change?  I was afraid.  The violent will be violent, the weak weak, the strong strong, and the bleak bleak.  But then I stopped wondering and saw the truth: People only change.  People are only ever falling from the sky!  Your opinion says they are still, they are dead!  They are dying and being born, they are being bad and doing good.  Push me this way, wind, and I fall to the river.  Push me that way, wind, and I fall on their heads!

All the world’s a lie, all the world’s fake.  Noble friends, push to the river!  Push!”

a bad spouse

February 8, 2010 - Leave a Response

I noticed him becoming agitated.  Keith’s eyebrows furrowed slightly and I could see the foot tapping in his mind.  Lily noticed it too, sitting across from him.  The only sound was a soft  and sharp trill of a singing warbler.  The pings of its melody escalated in tempo until the crescendo, where the song became throaty.  A pause, and the bird repeated his song.  The cabin moaned as the sun permeated its bones. Keith twitched.

“My student!” Lily continued looking forward and Keith met my eyes, “Stop.”

His body relaxed and he agreed by his posture.  I narrowed my eyes and inquired, “What are you doing?”

“You said stop, teacher.  So I stopped.”

“So that’s all it takes, is it?”

“No. I was fighting long before you told me to stop.”

“Fighting against what?”

“Time,” the word fell hard from his tongue.

I laughed, “You cannot fight time my student!  You are married to it.”

“Oh?  I want a divorce.”

“In that case, what you must do is easy.  Simply stop talking to her.”

“I would like to, but she controls me.  She tells me when to sit up, when to eat, when to sleep.”

“That’s not her.  That is you.  She is the when.  So you see, you are in control.  Time is a bitch and you break up with her.  I  sat on the toilet to escape my wife.  On the toilet, with my pants around my ankles, I was a god.  A naked titan- free.  So I am telling you my student, you must be naked.”

Lily mumbled, “Time’s a bastard too.  Die, get old, plan, decide.  Gah.”

“I’m not comfortable naked.”

“Do not be silly.  You gained consciousness while naked, and you leave it naked.  What makes you think you are not naked right now?  Because you have clothes on?  Do not be foolish.  Pay attention to your breath, be mindful of your body, and appreciate the only real phenomena, the only thing you really own.”

“What’s that?”


Keith regained his composure.  The three of us continued our sitting in the warm opalescent haze of morning through the circular  air of the distant songbird.

note from the author

February 6, 2010 - 4 Responses


To let you in on my posting schedule, know that Monday through Friday of every week there will be a new story, but on Saturdays and Sundays, I won’t be updating.  You will just have to go outside or something.


Stamati Anagnostou

PS: I saw Dear John tonight.  If you want to understand the meaninglessness of life please go see this film.

the big question mark

February 5, 2010 - Leave a Response

I sat quietly in my room, listening to nothing.  The late evening skies were too cold for crickets or birds.  I could see Keith and Lily talking outside, swimming in a dim and sensual lantern light.  They stared out into the woods around the retreat, obviously enjoying the brisk air and company.  I turned from the window and began sketching.  I thought about the grand questions of life, and got tired.

“Oh,” I sighed, talking to myself, “my old boy, what about it, eh?”  I drew a cube, paying close attention to the perspective.  “What is life about?”  What a silly question I thought.  “It’s not a silly question!  The ‘why’ is it, old boy!”  I drew two lines, both travelling straight from the cube, curving gently to the right, and then with the same speed back to the left.

“Yet, my friend, how can you bother with the why when you don’t even know the what?”  I looked outside the window again.  The two were gone.  I could see tracks in the frost heading back home.  I heard the creaking of the stairs- weighty, big, slow; the wood beneath my socked feet felt their age.   “Hello, Lily. Keith.”

“Hey Teach,” she sounded cheeful, “What’s up?”

“I am drawing, my students.  Have a seat on the bed.”  I connected the bottom and top ends of my two new lines, and then drew three lines at each, making boxes.  From the bottom right corner of the top box, I followed the curve of the bottom line to create volume.  I paid close attention to perspective.

“Students, I don’t know what to say.  Your teacher is melancholy.  The answers to life seem so far away.  Why?  What? How?”

Lily quietly said, “You’ve told us to look around, exist right now, and see.  Isn’t that it?”

“Oh, that’s all bullshit.”

They both laughed.  I sighed.  “No, teacher,” Keith responded, “it’s not.  I think ‘why’ is a dumb question if you can’t answer the ‘what’.”

“You know, I just said that to myself.”

“It’s true!  You can’t tell me why you drew what you drew unless you know what it is.  What is it anyway?”

“Actually I had not really thought about it.”  I turned from them and looked at my drawing table. “Oh.  Funny.  It’s a question mark laying on its side.”

“See, teacher.  You know that these questions are old monuments.  Monuments to a privileged few like us- well fed, educated, comfortable,” he stretched his hands above his head and yawned.  “They’re good questions and all, but at the end… it’s just… you know, what’s here.

Lily patted my shoulder, “It’s alright, teach.  You’re alright.”

“Hmm, almost, Lily.  Almost,” I felt better, “but do you know what would just do the trick?”




Keith curiously ventured, “Who?”

“You!” Lily shouted, “And me! And you!”

I laughed, “Very good! Now go make me a sandwich.”

“God! What a coot.”

dirty work

February 4, 2010 - Leave a Response

“You know how Jesus says to forgive someone seventy times seven times if they ask?  I think that’s excessive,”  Keith was standing, propping himself on his hoe, his hat bathing his face in shade.  I looked up from my spot in the garden and wiped some sweat off my brow.  Lily continued steadily, planting spinach seeds.

She responded, “I don’t think so, Keith.  I think it’s good advice really.  I believe in it.”  At that moment I grabbed a handful of dirt and threw it at her face.  It hit squarely and she fell backwards on her bottom.  “Haha!” I laughed, “I knocked you right on your ass!”

Lily’s face burned a hellish red.  She stormed up to me and shook her hair off on me, meticulously shedding every grain of soil.  Keith smiled and said, “Good job there, Lil.  Way to follow Jesus.”

“Oh shut up, Keith.  You know what he was trying to do.”  I smiled and let the dirt rest on my head and back.  Without wiping it off I went back to work.   “Teacher, look here!  I don’t have to forgive you because you never asked to be forgiven!  So! There!”  She turned away and waved her arm in dismissal, “Uncalled for.”

Keith wiped some dirt from Lily’s back and empathized, “Hey, you did what I would’ve done. Although, to be fair- kinda funny!”

I responded, “I have no dirt on my head, but Lily’s head is covered in it.  It seems rather pointless for you to wonder if the person who put it there is sorry about doing so.  Clean your own head, let the other man be dirty if he pleases.”

“Good words, teacher.  Spot on,” Keith tilted his hat forward in response.  He smiled, unsuspecting as a little bird; I narrowed my eyes at him, laughing to myself, and clenched a handful of dirt.

stick is burning

February 3, 2010 - Leave a Response

Keith used a stick to adjust part of the tepee of branches, burning strongly before us, which had fallen down.  He withdrew the stick, now itself on fire, and waved it about in the air.  A trail of smoke and embers swirled about in pursuit.  Lily sat following the fire with her eyes, suddenly dousing Keith’s fun with water from her cup.

“I don’t want the forest to burn down.”  Lily stared at him.  Keith stared back and threw the stick in to the fire. “Lily, I think you need to get a hold of yourself sometimes.  I was just having a little fun.”  I poked the fire with my staff, listening.

“But your fun could burn everything down!  Doesn’t that bother you?”

Keith rolled his eyes.  “Look, Lily, if something did catch on fire, it’s not like there aren’t three of us here to put it out.  I was just having fun looking at it.”

“Alright.  Yeah, I guess it was pretty pretty.”

I chimed in, “Students mine!  Let us think about that stick that is now burning in the fire.  When you first grabbed it, Keith, was it on fire?  Of course not.  But when you stuck it in the fire, the end caught.  Then you swung it about in the air, making Lily feel threatened.  Now, I will say that what you did was inherently dangerous.”

Keith again rolled his eyes, “Good God.  Looks like I stand alone tonight.  Like I said: the fire could have been put out.  Simple as that.”

Lily pointed her finger skyward in recognition, “But it still would have caught something on fire.  It doesn’t matter if the fire would have been put out.  That doesn’t get rid of the damage that was done.  It just prevents more damage.”

“Okay, but I happen to think that the pleasure gained from watching it burn supersedes any imagined damage from that tiny ember.”

I interjected, “Can you see how you two are the fiery stick, waved about in the air?”

“Keith is trying to start a fire, I’m trying to put it out, teacher,” Lily offered righteously.

“Yet in trying to put out the fire, you create a new fire.  You wave it about and it catches Keith on fire.  Now I am on fire.  Oh, I’m burning.  Help me.  Ahhh.”  Lily leveled her gaze at me.  “I’m being serious, Lily.”

“Okay, fine.  I see how my comments ‘inflame’ the situation but it’s fine by me.  At least the forest’s not on fire.”

Keith tossed his arms up in the air, “And if my branch caught a small patch of forest on fire, that’s not necessarily evil! And maybe it would’ve been preferable to your whining.”

Keith and Lily looked away from each other, and I wondered how these outbursts did not happen more often with them.  I began to poke the fire again with my staff.  Lily coughed. Keith’s heel burnished the wet soil.

As I prodded the fire, I felt how much I loved these two children.  I said,  “These things are what they are, my students.  Woods burn, tempers burn, minds burn.  Now sit down and enjoy this heat because, for now, it is warming us.”

there is no oatmeal

February 2, 2010 - Leave a Response

I woke up to a rather frightening sound; there was a loud shrieking outside my window.  My back went erect and I squinted through the sleep to see what was happening.  It was Lily, running wildly in circles, screaming and waving her arms.  I jumped out of bed and hurried out of my room, glancing the threshold with my shoulder.  I lightly grasped the railing and flew down the stairs, bursting out the front door.

“LILY!”  My cry issued from my mouth like the clap of a gun, shooting through the smoke of my lungs.

“Lily!  What is going on?!”  Slowly, Lily stopped her wailing, wandered about as a top winding down, and slowly collapsed to the ground.  I rushed over and knelt beside her, only to see that she was oddly smiling.  “What in the hell were you doing, my friend?  You scared the shit out of me!”

Lily looked up at me, a smile as wide as a river.  “Oh, I was scared too, teacher!  That was when I thought that my death was inevitable.  I thought my death was real!  Can you believe that?  So I came outside this morning while it was still dark, and just kinda walked around between the trees.  I focused my attention and my mind fell open.  I saw everything and heard every creature.  As I walked, my body felt like a tree, the water, a blade of grass, and the stars in the sky.  I realized I am not ‘me’ but I am everything.  I won’t die because I was never born!  There isn’t an ‘I’!  I think I understand that I don’t have a self, and I’m not really afraid right now.  It’s beautiful.  Peaceful.”

I proudly smiled at my young student.  “I am so happy for you, Lily.  It is a beautiful thing to see how inseparable from everything we are.  You will grow well from here on.”

“Thank you, teacher.”

“You are welcome.”  I cleared my throat and an eyebrow raised slightly, “Now, would your non-existent self mind making me some breakfast?”

“Oatmeal?” Lily replied, and we both laughed heartily.


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