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My friend has entered a convent. No, really. She’s already gone through the three month trial period, took some time to think about it, and now she’s decided to pray for the world full-time. She sent me a box of worldly possessions, as she’s giving them away. When you become a nun you don’t need Throwing Muses or toe rings anymore. It’s part of that whole enlightenment through asceticism thing that I’ve tried for years and am finally starting to rethink.

At the heart of my search for enlightenment is nothing more complex than that I think it would be cool. Sure, it could make the world a better place, I might be in a better position to help other people, I’d understand myself and life and stuff better, and I could make fun of people who were less enlightened, not that an enlightened person would do that - or maybe they do and we don’t hear about it.... probably there isn’t a market for it as of yet. To make a reference to all the science fiction TV I have watched, Minbari humor is supposed to be based on the failure to attain enlightenment, which probably means the Boddhisatvas are laughing their asses off as I write this. I think it would be cool to be able to make fun of people for their state of unenlightenment. Right now, I’m not enlightened enough that my jokes don’t fall flat, but I’m working on it. And here we come to my choice of methods, or paths, or whatever.

I see two ways to approach enlightenment. The first, and more obvious, the cheap and allegedly easy path I tried following for a long time, is asceticism. What can I say, I’m into self-denial. It gets me off, which probably makes it something I indulge in, but I’m not a good enough logician to traverse that particular road. Self-denial is supposed to allow you to approach enlightenment by simplifying things so that distractions are filtered out and you can concentrate on the basics, like eating and sleeping, chopping wood and carrying water, and that’s supposed to let you in on the big secret of what it’s all about. Personally, my mind tends to wander and I start thinking about all the stuff I could be doing, like getting water from a faucet like a normal American and it’s all downhill from there. I’m bad at self-denial when I don’t have a specific goal in mind. I’m great at saving my money so I can get more comic books or not eating meat because of possible negative health effects in 40 years, or just not doing something so I can be self-righteous about it, but when I try to deny myself something as a means to enlightenment, I just want to do it more, which brings us to the second path to enlightenment.

The second way is through indulgence, which tends to be a lot more fun. The theory is that you have to not only acknowledge your desires, but indulge them until they no longer distract you. This is doubly effective in that it helps you get around that part about seeking enlightenment by not seeking enlightenment - when you’re out of your mind and fucking three people, you’re not thinking about your spiritual development. In the aftermath, where enlightenment typically occurs, I tend to be thinking more about hydration and how I got into that position, which is very much like getting back to the chop wood, carry water basics as both focus on the body and immediate environment.

I haven’t hit enlightenment yet. At least not the big one, and you’ll know because I’ll be making fun of you, yes you, you unenlightened freak. Stop chopping wood and... never mind. In the space in between, where I’m thinking about enlightenment but haven’t put it far enough out of my mind to find it, I find myself not caring which path is shorter or less traveled or whether they’re secretly the same. For now it’s enough to rehydrate, wonder what happened to the time I’m missing, and hope my ears clear soon.

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