Unmoved and Tranquil in Mind

This is not what happened:

The copy of The Teaching of Buddha in his car was not his own. He had not been poring over either the English or the Japanese parts of the dual-language text, had not been cramming for an ethics mid-term, had not been seeking solace or enlightenment in those exquisitely printed onion-skin pages.

The shirt he was wearing was not a style he would have selected himself. The short sleeves, the unbuttonable collar, the vertical stripes in the colors of a spearmint gum wrapper were not what he would have worn if he had had a choice.

His thoughts before it happened were distracted, anguished, nervous. He was not hit by the transport truck which had cut in front of him, the brakes didn’t fail and force him to plow into an unsuspecting sedan, there was no blown-out tire. He simply overcorrected, swerved, flipped. The book was jolted from the passenger seat and grazed his forehead. A honeycombed piece of the windshield came to rest on his chest, on the shirt his friend had lent him.

This is not what happened:

He didn’t get to sleep in his own bed that night. He dreamed of it on his way home, though. Saw the paisley bedspread folding back exposing pristine white sheets and pillow cases with light blue flowers. Saw the red-shaded lamp casting a subdued light up and over.

He imagined himself locking the door to his apartment, splashing cold water on his face, at the sink where they had first made love, her feet knocking over toothpaste and soap, his whole body straining at her, his toes pushing him in, his hands cushioning her shoulder blades from the hard mirror. He imagined going to the bedroom. Imagined undressing in the middle of the room, dropping everything uncharacteristically in a pile on the carpet.

He would not cover up because the nights were so hot and sweaty, would simply fall onto the bed of flowers, fall without restraint, hope that nothing would break, hope that sleep would come on him quickly, hope that their aroma would have dissipated by now.

This is not what happened:

Over iced tea during an unusual heat spell in May they did not talk about baseball or anything lighter than the fundamental truths by which they lived. They did not fret about unemployment.

He tried to avoid talking too much about her, mostly out of fear of being tedious and self-indulgent. His friend listened intently but did not suggest much, nodded not in superficial agreement with what he was saying but rather as a means of punctuating the lament. His friend lent him the book not as a manual for controlling mind and emotions, but as a means of distraction. At first he waved off the shirt his friend offered but eventually accepted it as a fresher covering than his own, which was soaked with sweat.

This is not what happened:

The passion between them was not perfunctory, was never carried out with mere suburban intensity. He couldn’t say that he ever felt deprived. He couldn’t say that he ever felt anything but unrestrained wanton generosity towards her. He couldn’t say that she wasn’t exactly what he was looking for, in this room, on this sink, in this speeding car.