Out of My Way Mortals

Posted by FL on Nov 6th 2018

While working on an organic farm in Hawaii, I met a man as close to a saint as anyone I'd ever met. The farm was full of interesting characters, including a Sri Lankan copper sculptor and his reclusive brothers, a "peace ambassador" and his two children Ming and Ping, a woman who gave up a career in nursing for farming, and several others. One of them in particular stood out. I never heard his actual name, everyone just called him "the monk."

The monk was a practicing Buddhist in his late 80s who was from Laos, but now lived in a shipping container on the farm. He spoke almost no English, but that didn't stop him from offering Buddhist sermons. I remember one in particular about the impermanent nature of all things (I'm guessing here) where the only words I understood were "sooo hot sooo hot, sooo cold sooo cold," and then when he pulled six drivers licenses out of his wallet one by one, "sooo many drivers licenses." The wind picked up and cash blew out of his wallet, from the social security check he had cashed earlier. He remained equanimous as ever, but I got up to help gather his scattered cash. He didn't have many expenses on the farm, so he mostly spent the money on ice cream and "flavor blasted nacho" chips to give to the rest of the farm workers. This was kind of him, but suddenly being given a tub of ice cream in Hawaii's weather means you have to finish it right there before it melts.

I hung out in the monk's shipping container from time to time. Once he let me play his 3-string Lao guitar with a dragon's head carved into the end of it. Around New Years, he invited the entire Lao population of the island (not very many people) to a big party. He and his friends jammed out on the synthesizer making cheesy beats long into the night. He seemed to exist in another world from the rest of us in the farm. If I were to get this Out of My Way Mortals Sock for anyone, it would surely be him.