I recently heard that there’s a saying in meditation that goes, “If you can’t be cheesy, you’ll never be free.” Wow. That really got me excited. I must be very free! I really can be cheesy, I feel. I read Tarot cards, especially to start a new year. Runes, too. I even have a rune tattoo. Bit of a regret on that, but oh well. But are these things cheesy or actually woo-woo? Hmm. That’s a hard one. I believe I’m pretty good at both, though my heart does draw the line at certain things in the woo-woo category.
But that is neither here nor there. Merriam-Webster defines cheesy as 1) “resembling or suggesting cheese especially in consistency or odor” (terribly literal, don’t you think?) and 2) “shabby, cheap.” It offers a whole slew of terrible synonyms for that second definition, e.g. dowdy, inelegant, tacky, tasteless, trashy, unfashionable, unstylish.
Clearly, this is not exactly what the meditation teachers are meaning (especially that bit about actual cheese). No. And regarding definition #2, in meditation you’re not supposed to be stylish to begin with! Hats, for example, are not worn, let alone truly fashionable top hats. In my opinion, meditators clearly mean being willing to do things that are, God forbid, not “cool” in the traditional sense, like hugging a perfectly beautiful tree or taking a yoga pose in the gate area of an airport. Wearing a Mad Hatter hat to greet one’s son at selfsame airport. Running up and down the little hills on a trail with arms spread out, playing “Airplane.” Singing “Good Night, Irene” or “Good Night, Lady” to one’s adult son every night before bed.
They mean being willing to risk looking or seeming silly, childlike, inelegant, woo-woo, naive, uncool, gullible or unrefined. And let’s just go on and say it–doing so for the greater good, i.e. for the sake of fun, a lighter heart, a new experience, vulnerability, intimacy, openness, perhaps even personal or spiritual growth–and thus becoming freer. That’s what I think, anyway.
So go ahead and hide an Easter basket for your adult son, husband, wife, lover! Go ahead and sing a little something at bedtime. Sing a little something to a perfect stranger! Find yourself a huggable tree and give it a loving embrace every time you pass by. Buy yourself a tube or two of Bathtub Soap Paint and have a ball in the tub. Or buy yourself an adorable plush snowman to have on your lap like a baby while you watch TV in the evening.
I would love to hear what you do that is cheesy.
“Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.”
― Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic
“‘Coolness’ is too transient to be of any real and meaningful, lasting significance, and it is often in great conflict with one being one’s most honest, most vulnerable self. ” ― Criss Jami, Healology
If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.
Thanks for listening,
P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”