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Finding Eternal Calm in a Chaotic World (Dante-ism)

Finding Eternal Calm in a Chaotic World (Dante-ism)

-the action or practice of meditating: a life of meditation.
• a written or spoken discourse expressing considered thoughts on a subject: his later letters are intense meditations on man’s exploitation of his fellows.
ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French, from Latin meditatio(n-), from meditari (see meditate) .

We can practice meditation at any time and in many forms in our lives. Some of us practice it without realizing it.

I myself have been a longtime practitioner of something I like to call Dante-ism. It is an exercise in relaxation. The goal is to imagine a new level of hell for someone and through that visualization melt away the feelings of stress that you are currently experiencing. Dante probably imagined quite a few more levels than nine. I am sure he had to cut it short due to deadlines. I myself have blown way past double digit figures.

I find Dante-ism particularly effective while driving. Case in point. I find myself at a four-way stop sign waiting for a couple to exit the crosswalk when another car jumps their turn. I calmly let the tension go as I design a new level of hell for the driver; a time slightly less than eternity spent waiting for pedestrians at a crosswalk while an infinite stream of cars jump the gun. Not quite satisfied, an additional inspiration adds the coup de gras. The car stereo of the perpetrator will now be playing that one Rick Astley song (“ never gonna give you up …”*) in a loop. There are two dangers for you the designer when crafting these scenarios. The first is that you may visualize the imagery for too long forcing the drivers behind you to taylor a level of hell specifically for you. The second danger is that you run the risk of being stuck with that blasted song in your head the rest of the day.

I find Dante-ism to be especially calming in cases where a narrow escape from death has just occurred and the culprit is the carelessness of others. This experience is more common for those who commute to work but may also occur for those who actively participate in life as the role of an innocent pedestrian. The cases in this category that I am familiar with are usually attributed to someone not paying attention. The pedestrian scenario can provide more of a challenge when crafting a new level of hell if the perpetrator is sans automobile. In this case there is no vehicle with with which to imprison the guilty for all eternity and more imagination is required to craft the ultimate floor in your ever increasing high rise of hell.**

One may find that writers block is getting in the way crafting a sufficiently annoying level of hell. In such cases the afore mentioned cross walk scenario works well in a pinch. The idea of the guilty forever unable to cross an intersection can be quite calming. Throw in the video for that Rick Astley song in a loop on his smart phone and you have the ingredients for nirvana. Limit this scenario to cases where you have tried mightily but can not quite come up with an adequate scenario to achieve that state of calm that may be desperately required. Instead, use the opportunity to challenge your imagination. Bystanders can often be incorporated into the scene to help trap the perpetrator in time.

Creating the added annoyance factor is where ones imagination can be really be stretched. While I find it hard to fathom that someone would not find Rick Astley annoying, and neigh I say enjoyable, improbable events do occur in life and there is plenty of irritating songs out there to choose from. It is not important as to whether the perpetrator will find it maddening, it’s all about you . Remember meditation is a means to achieve personal growth and is meant to be a rewarding experience.

*I can’t bring myself to continue.
**Good band name by the way. I am thinking something in the Death Metal genre

Three Cab Monte (Dante’s Dilemma)

I arrived at Denver International at a little after 11:30pm  and immediately began  a journey through Dan’s 14th level of hell, lost-luggage-land.  I have no idea why Dante stopped at 9 levels.  I am sure he had a deadline.  Perhaps my outlook on life is a bit cynical.  I have 59 levels and counting.  My 14th level is the afore-mentioned lost-luggage-land and I was staring it directly in the face after 25 minutes of waiting at the luggage carousel produced the usual black , red and an occasional pink bag but none that matched my generic black one*. When it was clear my bag was not coming I schlepped over to the baggage office where I was promptly directed back towards a podium by the carousels and asked “Have you talked to that women?”.  “No”, I replied and then thought “15th level, merry-go-round-land, here I come”. I answered the prerequisite questions for entrance into merry-go-round-land, type of bag, color etc and resigned myself to never seeing my luggage again.  The next problem on my agenda was how I was getting home at this late hour but before I started to tackle that problem my luggage had been granted a last stay of execution. It seems it “had wandered away from the rest of the luggage” and was found  cowering in a corner somewhere.  Lets hope I did not just use up my travel karma I thought as I headed over to ground transportation.  When I am gone for weeks at a time I always leave my car in my garage and take the airport shuttle. For return trips the shuttle folks tell me a reservation isn’t necessary. I was now about to put that advice to the test. Sixteenth level of hell, stranded in airport-land here I come.

Fortunately the shuttle desk was still open complete with a long line of customers.  My luck seemed to be holding until a minute later some official looking guy, well he wore a uniform anyway, announced that I was now entering the 16th level, the shuttle was shutting down. He was trying to contact the drivers that had just left for home to see if they could come back for one last run. As optimistic as he sounded, I for one was not convinced that he was going to be successful.  So there we were about twenty of us hanging around for Beelzebub to greet us while uniform guy wandered off in the direction of what I only could hope was a shuttle and not a donut. I am sure those were easier to find. I being of Polish descent (ie, sweaty) was content to wait outside away from the desperate masses. Soon the refugees started to break into small groups. Oh-oh, Lord of the Flies level here we come. My trepidation turned out to be premature. The cliques were based on who was going where.  Unfortunately the leader of the Boulder group was a very young , very desperate and who I assume was a about to be victim of a hustling cab driver.  The desolate look on his face screamed  “I’m vulnerable , please take advantage of me”. He and two others bound for Boulder had secured a $20 dollar a piece ride to Boulder.  I believed that about as much as I believe the Cubs will win the word series in my lifetime. I am making plans for my ashes to be sprinkled on the field when the blessed event takes place.  I declined to be a passenger  on the road to level “stranded by cabby because we did not have $200”.  Soon another “choice” opened up. For $60 I could have the privilege of accompanying 5  strangers to unknown parts of Denver before making it to Boulder. For that I get a discount of $20 off of average cab fare of $80. Sorry, I can get lost in Denver on my own and for free. I was starting get a feeling that this evenings  odyssey had a few more chapters in it that would rival “After Hours” (it’s an awesome movie, check it out)  but so far nobody had died. Risking that record and taking matters in to my own hands I talked to one of the cab drivers still hanging around the ground transportation island and “negotiated” an $80 fee. Yes steep compared the other “bargains but from I what gathered by talking to ground transportation personnel earlier, it was within line of a normal cab fare to Boulder. At this point my gut told me to shoot for normal rather than bargain and I alway’s listen to my gut. Well these days I do. Just ask my friends about the times I didn’t and you will get a litany of psycho ex girlfriend stories.

The ride home was uneventful. Sorry folks, no murders , no mayhem and no running out of gas. It was however 1:20 am. I suppose that was not too late considering I had just left level sixteen. Thankfully level one of heaven on earth was just around the corner. “Posturpedic-land” was calling me.

* Note to reader: I am color blind so it is highly probably that any one sample of the worlds luggage collection will contain much more than three colors.

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