Last Tuesday evening I attended the Zen meditation in Fava chapel. This was now my third time attending the meditation group, and the experience is continuing to grow and get better. The poems “Formula” and “Old Walt” by Langston Hughes, the intriguing novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, and my third meditation experience all share a common theme. This theme is the search to finding our inner greatness and our true selves.
In the poem, “Formula” by Langston Hughes, the speaker is talking about what he believes poetry is. He is saying that poetry isn’t always meant to be something that makes the readers happy and full of joy. The speaker also says that pain is everywhere and that it’s fine for writers to write poetry about these subjects. Hughes poem suggests that poetry isn’t a formula and there is no “right” way to write it. Poetry is meant for truth and it can be a potential gateway to let go of negative feelings or thoughts. The speakers message is that poetry can tell us a lot about who we are and where we are going if we speak the truth and write about what is truly on our minds; not only the good side of life.
Second, the poem “Old Walt” also by Langston Hughes is a poem about the seeking and finding of something more than the speaker had intended. Old Walt is referring to Walt Whitman, a very influential poet. The speaker is suggesting that Old Walt sought and found something more of himself that eventually allowed himself to write brilliant poems that touched others. His determination to find what he thought he was missing allowed him to become a better writer and possibly even a better person. Perhaps Old Walt felt that he was missing something necessary for him to know in order to write the poetry he knew he was capable of writing.
The story of Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley is a complicated story that ultimately illustrates the story of Victor Frankenstein and his journey to creating life. Victor had a greed for knowledge. He left his friends, his family, and home for school where he could study and find the knowledge he craved so badly. In his case, his desire to know everything led to destruction. He was brilliant, but he needed something more. His creation did not end up the way he planned, and he abandoned the monster. Eventually, his love, Elizabeth, along with several of his family members died and he was left a lone. Victor gave up everything to find what he was searching for. Even though it destroyed him in the end, he sought out to find the greatness he knew was bestowed upon him. He had a goal that he knew he could accomplish, so he left home to accomplish the ambitions he had.
Finally, my third experience at the meditation group was different than my recent times going. This particular time I was able to relax, count, and sit in the same position for the entire meditation session. One trick I used to help myself stay focused was to count in Italian. Not only does it help me study for my Italian class, it keeps me focused on counting and breathing at the same time which is crucial for meditation yet extremely difficult. On my walk home from the meditation session, I could clearly feel in my mind the reason I keep attending the zen meditation groups. It’s because it makes me feel different, and it makes me feel like a better, healthier person. Like the two poems by Langston Hughes and Victor Frankenstein, I am searching for something I don’t think I have found yet. I go because I am searching for that one piece of me that will make me happier. I am searching for that piece of me that will make me love me for who I am, and appreciate the life I have been given. Meditation allows me to take the step I need in order to look at life from a different point of view. Like the speaker in “Formula”, my life doesn’t have to be happy and perfect all the time just like poetry doesn’t have to be written only about good things. But it is important that I don’t pretend the hardships and sadness aren’t there. Like Old Walt and Victor Frankenstein, I am searching for what is going to help me accomplish the goals I have, and use my talents and passions to get there. Meditation has a way of helping me see things clearly and all the way through.
Sometime our lives become so hectic and chaotic that we begin to see things in black and white. Whether something is good or bad or sad or happy, there is more to everything than meets the eye. Searching for ourselves to find who we are and the greatness we have within us is an important step of life that allows us to excel and accomplish the great aspirations we have for ourselves. Life is not perfect and it’s not always fair, but when we search for meaning and truth within ourselves and the world, we find ourselves which can only lead to good things that will help us strive and go far in the lives we lead.