Every time I think about the situation I am about to describe, I ask myself, “What would Joey think?” Here’s the problem: I was dating a fellow who likes to meditate. He kept saying he wanted to find a Buddhist church. Finally he said, “Would you find one?” One day I took him to the labyrinth, a walking meditation at Pioneer Church. I talked about how it’s a pretty cool place to go. He took one look at it and said, “I don’t like that. Let’s go.” I said, “How can you say you don’t like that? You haven’t done it. You have to walk and meditate.” He said, “We need to find a Buddhist church.” I said, “Find your own church.” Joey, what would you say about somebody who would say, “I don’t like that” without even trying it?
That he knows what he likes? Oh, I know that you might relish a different interpretation. Perhaps: “Eeek! He’s not very open-minded, is he?” But rather than trying to conjure the right label for his behavior, let’s examine what’s really important: your relationship. If the scenario you shared is a one-time incident, then it’s likely that he was simply focused on his desire to join a specific religion. If he is new to that religion, he might not understand that walking meditations are frequently practiced in Buddhism. In Catholicism, contemplative walks are a form of prayer. Longer journeys are packaged as pilgrimage (as in Islam), which is akin to the vision quest practiced by some Native American religions. Varied cultures incorporated labyrinths into their religions (far earlier than Christians), but the contemporary labyrinth of choice is the Christian design as seen at Pioneer Church.
Enough of that, let’s riff on your history. If the no-way-I-won’t-play response is a recurring pattern, it’s time to knock on the doors of other hearts and find a playmate that shares your belief about the value of using different rituals to exact self-knowledge. If you stick it out with this fellow, you’ll have to examine whether you’re resistant to attending a Buddhist church, since you didn’t quite serve the soul food he requested.
Your advice about teenagers and their booming sound systems was sweet, but incomplete. Noise pollution is a proven health hazard to our sensitive bodies. The people creating this noise don’t give a damn whether they offend others. This is a sign of our times. It’s getting worse and teenagers are not the only problem. Actually, a lot of these people are adults. They also alter their exhaust systems to be loud and annoy decent citizens. There are also bikers who run straight pipes on their Harleys to say to the world “Look at me!” When that sound hits you in the gut, the body has a physiological response. Law enforcement does occasionally cite these violators, but it is a low priority. Too bad they can’t enforce consciousness, but that must come from within.
When a situation is beyond my control, like another driver’s super-sized stereo, I tend to promote a playful response. But I agree with you that noise pollution is a public health issue. And, although I often giggle and wiggle in response to startlingly loud car stereos, I do find myself cringing in the theater during the trailers advertising mainstream movies. So thank you for writing to offer a different perspective.