“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
From my blog, The Daily Epiphany, Friday, July 10, 1998
Over my lunch hour the “low gasoline level” alarm went off in the MiniVan. It’s a gentle, yet jolting alarm; a soft, insistent “bo-ing” and accompanying orange light in the symbol of a gas pump. My head hurt.
I drove a block down and filled up the van with gas.
The gas station was one of the new ones that offer everything under one roof. Twenty pumps, cold drinks, car wash, hot food, air and water, pizza, oil and washer fluid, magazines and lottery tickets, toys and office supplies, maps and pornography. An entire civilization springs up in this little store with its spreading shade-wings across the hot tarmac. An oasis, a tacky colorful monument to American Capitalism run by a family of Pakistanis.
I finished pumping and walked to the store to grab some juice and pay. As I was walking I could see through the glass door a sign hanging from the ceiling. It was bright red neon; near the back of the building, yet very visible and obvious. It said:
I was tired and hot and my brain was fuzzy. I allowed my thoughts to believe the evidence of my eyes. Why would a cheap-ass convenience store offer Zen Food? What is Zen Food anyway?
A momentary fantasy floated through my brain of exotic, delicious, far-eastern culinary delights. Spicy colorful mixtures, displayed on steam tables, savory herbs and succulent vegetables prepared with ancient recipes and exotic skills. I allowed myself the luxury of imagining for a moment I had stumbled on something special, a precious mystery hidden away in the most common of locations – a gas station.
As I entered the store it was obvious that an advertisement hanging from the ceiling, an inflatable pack of cigarettes, had concealed the first three letters of the sign:
I pulled a V-8 out of the freezer. The day suddenly seemed hotter, barren, a little more bleak and a lot more ordinary.
And today’s piece of crackerjack flash fiction: