I love t-shirts. Thanks to my sister-in-law Nona and my brother-in-law Lance, I’ve been amply supplied with some wonky ones in a series of Christmas presents. When I go on a summer retreat at the Insight Meditation Society, the appropriate clothing is t-shirt and shorts. Before my first retreat, the question was whether I should wear funny slogans or whether, in anticipation of enlightenment, I should blend in with the other yogis, to the tune of muted colours, no words emblazoned on the chest – your basic egoless approach to life. I’m happy to say that pizzaz won out … to heck with enlightenment.
Both in my chest of drawers at home and in a suitcase, I fold my shirts once, long ways from neck to waist, and pile them. When I wake up, whatever shirt is on top of the pile is the one I wear. I love that little tradition. On retreat, a gong wakes us at 5:30. I have time to shower and shave before getting to the meditation hall a minute or two before the 6:00 sitting. I come in by the front entrance, bow to the statue of the Buddha (more on that in some future post) and then turn to walk back to find a seat. Usually, there are nearly 100 retreatants in place by the time I make my appearance.
What I didn’t realize until we were able to talk to each other after the retreat ended was that many folks were waiting each morning to see what t-shirt I would wear that day. A few of them told me that they had to suppress a smile sometimes, striving valiantly to maintain a serene pose. One person said she laughed inside all day after seeing my “humerus” garment.
I’m happy that my shirts have contributed to many people. I’ll take any way I can find to bring happiness to others. Here are my favorites – some funny, some mellow. Yay for summer!
Black background; white right-angled triangle, with the short sides labelled 4 cm and 3 cm, and the long one “x”, “Find x”; in red, a line circles the x and leads down to “Here it is”
I’d say that the x’s of life are not meant to be calculated and analyzed, just observed. By the way, I’m wearing this one today. Feels good.
Pea green background; picture of a tyrannosaurus rex with teeth on display; in white, huge “RAWR!”, smaller “RAWR means “I love you” in Dinosaur”
Those three words need to be seen, absorbed and expressed. The cute context works for me.
Black background; in white, “LISTEN & SILENT have the same letters. Coincidence?”
Perfect for a meditation retreat. There’s a type of listening that’s beyond conversation and the sounds of the day.
Black background; in yellow, musical notes and “CAUTION: PRONE TO SUDDEN OUTBURSTS OF SONG”
Not likely to happen at IMS, at least not until the retreat is over. Give me spontaneity or give me a flat and cautious life. The first one please.
White background; in gray, bare deciduous trees in winter; in red, a cardinal perched on a branch
There is always life. There is always vibrancy within the seemingly inert.
Light gray background; in brown, a vertical bone; beside the bone in black, “I found this humerus”
The grand prize winner among the yogis at IMS. What could be better than making people laugh?
Black background; gorgeous painting of a little red bus in the mountains at sunset; in reddish brown, “GOING-TO-THE-SUN ROAD Glacier National Park”
Aren’t we all going to the sun?
Red background with a black strip around the neck and sleeves; in black,”EXPENDABLE”
A reference to the “red shirts” on Star Trek, the crew members who will likely die by the end of the episode. What’s left after all that I’ve said is me disappears?
Black background; in orange, a wraparound logo with “HOLODECK PROGRAMMING”; in multicolours within the logo, “WHAT HAPPENS ON THE HOLODECK STAYS ON THE HOLODECK”
More Star Trek. Number two on the IMS hit parade. I love sexual fantasies.
Green background; in white, “IRONY: THE OPPOSITE OF WRINKLY”
I can get oh so serious about my knowledge of the English language, and the concepts within. Silly is better.
Unknown background; unknown colour of the print, “Shine a Light Upon My Day”
A t-shirt yet to be created. This is a lovely phrase from Nona’s poetry. May I bask in the glow radiating from each of you.
And there you have it – the shirts off my back. I’ll wear them well.