Just One Thing?

I'm supposedly listening to an album. The Cars' first album. Friends and I were talking about it last night and then I was going through my records and saw it there. It belongs to another guy who doesn't have his turntable any more but kept his albums. Turns out that The Cars' first album is good. It's from a whole range of music I discounted in my youth because I wanted to seem superior to pop. I'm a bit less foolish now.

But this isn't about The Cars, it's about listening to an album, the thing I'm supposedly doing. I listened to the first and a half but a book on my shelf — The Art Of Noticing by Rob Walker — caught my eye and I picked it up. I had read eight pages before I remembered listening to the album. The record was still spinning, music still played from the speakers, but was I listening?

I put the book down, intent on listening, but kept thinking how this was something I wanted to write. I booted the computer into the writing program and typed until the record ran out, then got up, flipped it, and wrote while the music played.

There are two old Zen things I have just wasted two songs trying in vain to find. The first, I'm pretty sure is a Zen saying, but the second is something else entirely.

The First: When drinking tea, one should only drink tea.

Focus on one thing. Be in the moment. Meditate on it. Really listen to The Cars first album instead of reading or writing. I've failed at this, but there's this second thing.

The Second: A monk watched his master drinking tea and reading the newspaper. Master, he asked, you said when drinking tea, one should only drink tea? The master paused, then said, when one is drinking tea, one should only drink tea. And when one drinks tea while reading the newspaper, one should do only those things. With that, the master went back to reading the paper, steam rising from his cup and disappearing mysteriously in the morning air.

I'm going back to listening to The Cars now.