Life as an Extreme Sport

Broken Buddhas

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For Nicholas.

I, as you most likely know, am a Buddhist. I am a very bad Buddhist: I drink, swear like a sailor, and until recently was a very happy ethical omnivore. I make my amends, though, and one way I do that is through routine meditation practice. As an offshoot of that, I have a lot of boddhisatva statues around my house. They’ve been on my mind lately – probably because, in the recent CLEAN ALL THE THINGS push, I’ve handled each of them to wash, dust, and reposition them.

From where I’m sitting on my bed, I can actually see four statues: a Green Tara, a Kuan Yin, a weeping Buddha and my yard gnome Buddha.So named because I found him as garden statuary in a garden store. There are at least another two Buddhas in other areas of my home. And what struck me about them is that they all, with the exception of the weeping Buddha, are broken.

The Green Tara on my nightstand is missing a lotus and what looks like a naga. The Kuan Yin in my bathroom is missing a hand. Another is missing lotus petals. My yard gnome Buddha is probably the best example of this, though: during a move, many moves ago, he tipped out of the chair he was being carried in and the back of his head shattered across the ground. Concrete meeting concrete is never a pretty thing.

It was my ex-husband who dropped the yard gnome Buddha, and I very distinctly remember him bracing for what must have seemed like the inevitable explosion. That I stood there thinking for a moment, and then laughed, was certainly not the expected response.

Looking back on it, it was one of those moments. Everything slowed to a crawl as I watched the Buddha tip over and shatter, and then there was a bit of a sideways shift while practice clicked and tumbled in to place. The yard gnome Buddha became, in one swan dive, a very nice, very literal embodiment of non-attachment.

I’d like to say that since then I’ve reached some serene, zen-like state, closer to enlightenment, but the reality is I have my good days and the bad. I’d also like to claim that having a set of largely broken Buddhas decorating my house was an intentional choice, but instead it is more serendipitous. A reminder about how messy life is, and how broken we each are, and that life is often about finding the beauty in the broken, and the people whose shards match your own.

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