Mirror of Zen Blog

Being ‘Don’t-Know Aware’

Someone asked me for some school survey recently if I would classify myself as “self-aware“ or “very self-aware“. I answered that I am definitely neither one. I really feel increasingly naturally “don’t-know aware.” Meditation practice is just creating a space for dwelling in this “don’t-know awareness”.

Several days ago, one of my five brothers was killed in a freak accident. He was 66 years old, and crossing a little small-town street in Helena, Montana, where he was serving the VA hospital system (Veterans Administration) to care for all of the wounded warriors who’ve come back from America‘s years of grinding war. He was hit by the backend of a pick up truck which was backing up on a street that was under construction. He was crossing just at that moment.
BOOM! — dead on arrival.

Our eldest brother recounted to me his last most recent conversation with the dead brother: “We were just having a friendly dispute about the stock market. I was urging him into bonds, and he kept telling me that he’s got to plan on a 30-year more lifespan, so therefore, he will go for stocks.” And though the guy was older physically, by age, he did a vigorous daily workout and was in excellent physical condition. He could easily have lived those 30 years, as he planned.

Three days into his 30 year plan, he was dead on the street. In broad daylight. In a town and in a forlorn state far, far, far from family in every possible familiarity.

His house in a bucolic NJ exurb was awakened first thing the next morning with a State Policeman and a priest standing on the front doorstep. This is especially ironic, since the deceased was proudly a-religious, even irreligious, in a mellow, highly intelligent way. But he was a respected doctor for the community, and an upstanding citizen who was highly regarded.

His strong, intelligent, very-together wife was crumpled into saying only “I… I… I… don’t know… I just don’t knowwww…” amid painful sobs and occasional wailing.

My brother had recently retired after building a medical practice for some 40 years. They had several decades of world travel staring them in the face, they believed. Quiet nights finally on the couch together, reading books and talking about their brand new grandchild.

“I… just don’t know.”

I often say that, “In this life, don’t-know definitely has your email address. Expect something, in your Inbox, from moment to moment.”

Dr. Christopher Paul Muenzen, MD (1955-2021)

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