Our Town downtown
January 15, 2007
There may have been bigger crowds for a reading than the one at the David Lynch reading last Thursday night at the tall Union Square Barnes & Noble, but I’ve never seen one that big, and I’ve been to them where you have to stand way in the back and you start looking at whatever books are in front of you on a table because you can’t see.
Last night I didn’t even get to the floor where the reading was. They wouldn’t let me; it was already filled to capacity and I was a half hour early. It was like Obama was in the building there were so many people standing by the security guards at the foot of the escalators hoping against hope that they’d let them go up. I gave up and left when I heard the rousing greeting Lynch got a floor above me. I knew it was too late then. The first floor as I left looked like the 24th of December so many people were killing time waiting to still maybe get up there or at least to see him on his way out. I didn’t care about him that way.
Sure, I’d loved ‘Blue Velvet’, but I’d never watched ‘Twin Peaks’ and any of the rest of his movies that I saw didn’t knock me out like Velvet did. I didn’t come to see David Lynch the film guy anyway. I came to see David Lynch the Transcendental Meditation guy. That’s a lot about what his book is about. I wondered as I looked at the crowd last night how many of them were into T.M. I hoped all of them were.
Here’s why: We all do thousands of things to try to change our life in some way. Maybe that’s mostly what we’re doing all the time. That’s likely what we’re hoping when we go to a movie. That’s what we’re browsing for in a bookstore. Some insight or some companion to our life. That’s what got me to an introductory lecture about T.M. over 30 years ago. It was in the wind then. The Beatles had gone to see the Maharishi and learned to meditate. Mary Tyler Moore did it. The Philadelphia Phillies did it. So did a Beach Boy. It was a zeitgeist thing. I paid my money and got a mantra of my own. It surprised everyone. They wouldn’t have guessed I’d be into such a thing. It seemed like a religion to them and they saw me as a longtime lapsed Catholic who was not much for devotion.
Well, other than the three pieces of fruit and a clean handkerchief and some flowers for the little private ceremony to honor the tradition of meditation, there was no ‘religion’ at all. There wasn’t even any philosophy or any psychology. T.M., we learned, was not psychological, it was physiological. It was rest, deep rest. And rest was what was needed to reduce stress. Once the stress was reduced we’d lead better lives with more energy and more focus. We were supposed to do it twice a day, morning and evening, 20 minutes each time. Sit in a quiet place.
I have done that for 30 years now. David Lynch has too. When I think of all the things I’ve not sustained interest in, it’s amazing to me I’m still doing it.
Last Friday down on Broad Street, the T.M folks opened up the lobby of a building they are refurbishing as some kind of center here. I may never get to it. I’m not much for organizations. I’m not even telling you the address. I’m not suggesting anything. All I’m doing is sharing my enthusiasm and respect for something that lived up to its billing. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
-- Bill Gunlocke