Meditation Session at Tushita
The room was enormous, crowded, and noisy. I had no idea how I would possibly make myself heard over the din and flow. Colors streamed into currents around me. The throng's countless members grabbed at each other, punching and tugging, shouting into the open air and running frantically. I set the small footstool I had brought with me onto the floor, and stepped up--one head above the crowd. I looked into the storm of commotion, closed my eyes, swallowed hard, and spoke.
"Excuse me. . ."
Not a single pair of legs slowed. Not a single voice died.
I tried again, a little louder: "Excuse me."
"Excuse me! Please, everyone. . . hey. . . EXCUSE ME!"
A handful of them stopped and turned. I kept yelling. "STOP! EVERYONE JUST STOP AND LISTEN TO ME! LISTEN!"
More of the them stilled. Eventually, the better half of the room stood watching me, and, slowly, the rest followed.
A tiny flicker of encouragement shone in the back of my mind. I puffed out my chest and raised my chin, squirming behind my best rickety expression of confidence. As soon as the room had become completely silent, I addressed the group.
"OK, um. . . I know we don't do this very often, but. . ."
Bullets of sweat began rolling down my temples. I choked on my own breath, and picked up on a softer note.
"I'm going to need you all to. . . leave for a while."
The words dropped like sparks into gunpowder. At once the crowd surged forward and shook the room with their bellowing.
"Leave! Who do you think you are?"
"We'll never leave!"
"Get down from that stool! We'll do whatever we want!"
"NO!" I yelled back, with so much force I startled even myself. "Sit down and shut yourselves up! We're all going to clear out of here for a bit, OK? Boss's orders."
"Boss's orders?" one of them cried indignantly. "But. . . but. . ."
"That's right," I said. "Boss's orders."
The crowd's mood immediately shifted from rage to childish grumpiness, and I smiled for my victory. One by one, they began to whine.
"But I can't leave now, I just can't! I was on my way to meet up with Childhood Memory #2,563 and head on over to visit Nostalgic Feeling #490."
"And I was going over there to chat with Anxious State #4, Mental List #45,528, and Vague Sense of Dissatisfaction #12. I want to talk to them. I have to!"
"Who cares about that! We three were in line with a meeting for Creative Impulse #108. We're Inspiration C, Assorted Holiday Reminiscences #6 and Reasoning Skillset #1,890. And, you see, we need--we simply need--to speak with him as soon as--"
I cut him off: "No. Alright? You don't need to speak to anyone right now. Just sit down and be quiet. This will all be over in about forty-five minutes. . ."
With that I began my long and tiring sentry over the room and its crowd, squirming where they sat, for the longest three-quarters of an hour I've ever known. And each time one of them opened his mouth to speak, I silenced him harshly, wondering if the rippling crowd would actually hold, or if they would finally boil over, erupt once more, and swallow me whole.