Basic Training

Bear Jack Gebhardt

“Inner stillness is not about not having thoughts. It’s about not pushing forward. Not getting lost in your momentum. Willing to be right where you are.”

“Right where I am is looking at five to ten years locked in this god-damn hellhole.”

Arnold smiled at the young con. “All the more reason to practice stillness.”

“Seems like stillness would make time drag even more. I can’t wait to get out of here.”

   “Just watch.”

           “Whadda you mean?”

“You say you can’t wait. But here you are in the cage. You’re waiting.”

“And I hate it. Can’t stand it.”

“Because you are pushing against the bars.”

“Hell yes. That’s only natural.”

“Not natural at all. Very common, yes. But not natural.”

“Hell, they have us locked and chained like caged animals. It’s only natural wanting to get out.”

Arnold nodded. “Best way to get out is to learn to be still.”

“I see why they say you’re a crazy old coot.”

“If you had learned to be still while you were on the outside, you wouldn’t be here.”

“If I’d had any sense, I wouldn’t be here.”


“I was drugging and thuggging and living la vida loca.”

“Always wanting to be somewhere else, pushing forward, pushing, pushing. pushing.”

“Yea, I guess so.”

“Without learning stillness, you push yourself into the grave.”

“Or prison.”

“The suits are doing the same thing. Pushing, pushing into their own prison, towards their own grave.”

“So tell me it again.”

“Stillness isn’t about not thinking. It’s about being willing to be just where you are.”

“Okay, I’ll try it.”

Albert thought, yes, okay, he’s passed the first test. He’s a possible recruit, to help us break out. But first, his mind and emotions need training.

Bear Jack Gebhardt is Senior Librarian at Heart Mountain Monastery—an offline/online community of Buddhist Methodist artists, pilgrims and fellow travelers. He’s been a free-lance writer for many decades and has published hundreds of articles, stories, essays and poems in well-known, somewhat-known and little-known places. He has also published ten books, including three stop smoking books and, most recently, a collection of flash fiction, A Wave of Thanks, and Other Human Gestures: 31 Quick Stories He keeps studying and writing because, he says, “I can’t help it.” He welcomes contact at

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