How To Replace Your Smart Phone

One morning at Café Osage
She told me all about it

How she had been so enthralled
Totally mesmerized by her Smart Phone

It was her life-line
Her axis mundi

It increased her efficiency
It allowed her to be in touch

Whenever I wanted!”

She fell asleep with it
It kept her company on the Metro

She used interesting apps
For intellectual stimulation throughout the day

But then in a daze of distraction
She left that sacred Smart Phone somewhere

And when she realized its absence
She went crazy looking for it

She looked in the post office three times
The clerks thought she was disturbed

“And I was!
What was I going to do?”

The sweats
The chills

The tears
The “I-can’t-believe-I-lost-it”

She couldn’t remember
Where she last saw it


Toute ma vie

After several days
She went to the weekly sangha

And as sometimes happens in life
She walked out a different person

The next day
She got one of the last existing non-Smart Phones

She would use it as a land-line
Leaving it in her apartment when she left for work

I asked her “Don’t you miss it?
Why didn’t you just replace it?”

She smiled
“I’ve invested in something

Way more useful
For any situation I might find myself in

I use it —
If you can believe this!–

Even more than I used that Smart Phone
I use it all the time”

I looked across at her
And in front of her

I didn’t see anything
She was “using”

“The best thing is
I can never lose this

It can never break
Never fall to its ruin in a toilet

When I go out now
I am free

Free! Shimmelstoy
I’m free!”

She was giggling
And I calmly inquired

“So, uh, can you tell me
What it is?”

“But you were there…
At the sangha, remember?”

“You mean that time we heard
Thay’s Dharma Talk on the Heart Sutra?”

“Yes, yes, yes!
After the sangha

I couldn’t get it out of my head
And so I kept it in my head

I wasn’t planning on doing this
But I kept repeating it–”

“You memorized the whole Heart Sutra?”
“No, no, no

The end of it
The great mantra

I said it that afternoon
And kept saying it that evening

I woke up the next morning mumbling it
I took a long walk in the park

Said it non-stop
For two hours

Now I say it upon waking
I use it before eating

I recite it walking to work
I definitely say it when I randomly see my ex

I find 100 times and places and moments a day
To take refuge in it

I’ve got so much more vigor now
I feel so connected to everybody and everything!

C’mon, didn’t you notice
There is something different about me? …”

Indeed, I did
Which is why I asked to see her that morning

“…I know I’m sounding like a zealot
But join me, Shimmelstoy, you know it:

Gate gate pāragate
pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā‘”

She was beaming as she repeated it
Her joy was vibrating across the table

It was infiltrating my skin
In the most nonviolent way

After she finished her pancakes
And I my breakfast wrap

We went out on Olive
And did hugging meditation before we parted

I walked to my car
I was beaming too

If the Heart Sutra could liberate Bella Levenshteyn
Maybe it could do something for me

–from novel-in-progress Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris


How to Replace Your Smart Phone

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