As much as I like to fantasize about a slow, meditative, simple life, I seem to only truly be calm and in the moment during traumatic situations. I need adventure, stress, and tension to be truly at peace with my life. Minus those things I tend to get bored and make up emotional turmoil in my head.
Several years ago, while on Amma’s South Indian tour, I was feeling a little bored and wanted to head back to the ashram, but one morning in Chennai, routine work in the kitchen changed everything. We cook kanji, rice gruel, in large vats. When the rice is completely cooked we strain it, keeping enough water for the gruel and then dump the excess boiling water. Normally I work on the curry making team, but as we were finished I went to help with the rice preparation.
As we were carrying pots of excess boiling water to a pit to dump it, a brick slipped from beneath my foot causing me to suddenly be lower than my partner carrying the water. The pot tipped, burning my knees, and then fell to the ground and I fell over into the pot with my hands elbow deep in the scalding water. I ran quickly to put my body under cold running water but as I was burning everywhere, we eventually filled up a cooking vessel and I sat in cold water for the next two hours.
Anytime I tried to come out of the water, I would feel unbearable burning and re-submerge. I tried to be tough, but, with so many friends staring sadly at me, tears would fall every now and then. I would look away so that people wouldn’t see me cry, but you could see the tears as they dropped in the water.
Still, this was my time. I couldn’t think about the past or the future but was finally living in the moment. In truth I was in pain for maybe eight hours, but the next few weeks as the love poured in from every direction I was grateful for the experience.
My skin would first bubble up then after a couple weeks it completely peeled off leaving pink new skin to draw everyone’s attention. After a couple months my skin returned to normal with scarring that only I could notice as not being the same as it used to be.
Actually, it seems that I have some bad astrology for Chennai, as the next year’s tour during those same programs I managed to turn a propane tank into a flame thrower and set the whole kitchen ablaze at four in the morning. It was a site to see, though luckily the tank as it heated up sent the gas out faster and faster eventually running out without exploding or burning down the kitchen.
These moments of intensity are the times when the whole world stops and only the present moment exists. Recently we celebrated Amma’s 60th Birthday and it went off flawlessly. But 10 years ago for the 50th celebrations, it would be the first time that we had to deal with organizing for such big crowds. The event was a four day international peace rally that saw 250,000 people gathered together.
Taking care of this many people for four days, was a year’s long organizational feat. During the event we basically did not sleep for all of the four days. What little time I slept I can remember it being my face in a pool of sweat on a table, for an hour or so. It was glorious. Now, dealing with this many people has become common place for the ashram, but those early days remain as some of my greatest memories.
Ah, the thrill of chaos! There’s nothing like it. I may fantasize from time to time about being alone with plenty of time for meditation and introspection, living a life of order and routine, but it is still pandemonium that makes me feel alive.
Written for Dungeon Prompts: Our Hidden M.O.
Featured Photo by Artist Aleksandra Kerzhentceva. Check her out at http://www.kerzhentceva.com/