He taught us a form of mindfulness which I practise only very occasionally . My cynical hackles were up, I was ready to pounce, but the exercise he taught us wiped the smirk right off my face. He asked us to pick a random partner and then for each of us to stare into our partner's eyes and imagine the other person as a child when they were laughing, in pain, etc Then he had us imagine the other person as an adult, and experience their successes, their failures, difficulties and joy. I'd never met the woman who was my partner, but by the end of the exercise I felt I knew her better than I know some of my friends. It was so intimate, but she made me feel I was in safe hands. Some seek their heaven in worldly things--within plans for a better tomorrow filled with new pleasures. For others bliss means having someone to hold, or maybe being held rapt by some natural wonder. And some are sure that their culturally conditioned belief in some heaven-to-come is the same as living in the peace of its ever-present light. But, regardless of where one seeks his or her heaven in this world, two things ought to be clear: first, our imagined heavens never last; Reasons abound for why the glory of these treasures fade, but in the end it's the same story: one way or another reality collides with our dreamboat, and as it sinks into life's unknown waters so too does our hope that this time our ship had come in! Secondly, it isn't until we have had enough of coming up empty that it occurs to us that not only have we been looking for heaven in all the wrong places, but maybe, just maybe, what our heart longs for isn't to be found where we have been searching for it. Our intuition serves us true: upon the silent halls and walls of true spiritual sanctuaries world-over is invisibly etched the words, Why seek ye the permanent in the passing, the eternal in the temporary? I live on top of a small mountain in southern Oregon where each morning, from a chair seated next to a large window in my small house, I have the good fortune to sit quietly and watch the world turn. Right outside, usually less than ten to twelve feet away from where I am seated, it is as though Mother Nature mounts a wildlife parade just for me. Deer, wild turkey, gray tree squirrels, rabbits, and more than a dozen species of birds all congregate and then move through an area just beneath a cluster of spreading oak trees. But ten days seemed like a bit much. For my purposes, five minutes would be enough. Then I was reminded of the most famous use of silence in art: John Cage's 4'33. I decided to make a film of my own silence, which would last for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. I headed to Embankment Station in central London and set up my camera on a pedestrian bridge that crossed the Thames.

The wind ruffled my hair. When a group of school students approached, I heard one of the parents muttering under their breath: Why is that guy refusing to move for us! Once I had done my four minutes and thirty-three seconds, I hit stop and moved on. The parents leading the school group said thank you in a passive aggressive tone. I spent the whole day recording myself at various places: Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Liverpool Street Station. I also asked him to request a flying dream before he went to sleep. He said, I'm game, but you know how I am--I'll probably come up empty-handed. Reliable Fred: his negativity was second nature. Nonetheless, he asked and he received. The next morning the dream came, as if it'd never left his orbit. Fred looked unusually upbeat when he brought his dream journal in to read aloud. But I'd never doubted he'd succeed. Our natural state is flying. Nobody loses that ability. We just get a little earthbound. We don't allow parents to treat their children that way. So why is it that for a group of kids who are especially vulnerable, we've decided that this kind of treatment is acceptable? In an era when the mothers and fathers of privileged children are cast as helicopter parents, chastised for protecting their offspring from even the most mundane slights and injuries, children who end up in the juvenile detention system are essentially handed over to the wolves. Adolescent risk taking is both normative and developmentally vital. But in these children we punish it, and we do so with particular ruthlessness in children of color.

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