It's one of those tiny country gas stations. There's two gas pumps on each of two islands. There's a small rickety store with coffee which although hot, tastes like it was brewed yesterday. The pastries, which evidently arrived with the coffee, have begun to harden. Surrounding the gas station are freshly plowed bone dry fields. There's a thin layer of dust everywhere. Anything I touch now has imprints of my fingertips on it. The place looks like it was built right in the middle of a vineyard.
I give the attendant a couple of twenties, then start dispensing gas.
That's the picture. I'm nonchalantly pumping gas. This isn't the kind of place you'd consider as the backdrop for an experience. It's not a temple. It's not a church. It's not an ashram. It's not a synagogue or a mosque. Nor is it a kramat. It's not a monastery, and it's not a Zen center either. It's a country gas station, of all places, and it's a funky country gas station at that. And I'm standing here pumping gas.
That's when I get it. It comes on fast.
One instant, it's the mundane, the daily ordinary uninteresting act of pumping gas, the minutiae of the humming of the pump's electric motor, the almost inaudible sound of liquid gasoline rushing through the hose, the resistance of the sprung dispenser trigger against my fingers ...
The next instant, it's ... nothing ...
It comes on like a kind of marvelous emptiness palpable in the midst of the minutiae. The marvelous emptiness seems to start inside me.
Listen. I know that's not a very powerful distinction. "Inside me" isn't very powerful in the way I just said it. It's not, in my opinion, a very useful distinction either. When we say "There's a good feeling inside me", where exactly is "inside me"? Am I hollow? It's not useful. Yet now that I've distinguished it, to say the marvelous emptiness seems to start "inside me" is good enough for jazz.
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