I’ll say this about my photography hobby: it’s taught me to see the light.
Not just see it. See It.
I’m lucky in that, around my house, the light hits the main rooms in a lovely way, morning and sundown. The front and back yards, too. Just gorgeous light comes pouring in during sunrise and sunset. It doesn’t matter the season either. The Light is there.
I remember first walking into Nostalgia, Ink. at 10 years old and feeling like I was discovering a whole new world.
Up to then, collecting comics was a catch-as-catch-can operation. I’d find a few titles at book stores, or at the pharmacy, and once in a while I’d see a classified ad of someone selling their collection.
But a whole store? Devoted to comics? Heaven.
From that time on, I’ve had an on-again, off-again comic habit. In the early days, I’d bike down West Washington Ave. in Jackson by myself once a month to get the latest issues. As an adult, I’d drive to the shop on Wednesdays to get the newest editions.
Then the editors of Amazing Spider-Man would piss me off with their latest bad idea, and I’d quit buying for a year or two. A habit’s a habit, however, and I’d always make my way back.
So a month ago I get my usual Superior Spider-Man and Uncanny X-Men issues, and I notice a flyer on the counter: Leonard’s going out of business. He’s retiring.
I nearly cried.
I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. Through the comic bubble of the early ‘90s, through a Magic: The Gathering card collection, and now into adulthood.
Not for long.
Until Labor Day, everything’s on sale at increasingly-discounted rates. Back issues, books, everything.
Leonard says it’s time to retire. He’s been looking for a buyer, for a way out after almost 30 years. No one (as of yet) has come forward to take the business over. But there are a few things in the works.
For now, he wants to unload everything. Clear out the inventory.
And what an inventory. Miles and miles of long boxes. Bagged and boarded. Organized, roughly.
Not just comics, either. If you were into D&D, or Magic, or – hell – old issues of Playboy, Nostalgia was your place. Toys, shirts, posters, cards. Everything.
Hunting for the thing you wanted was half the fun. If Leonard didn’t have it, he could order it.
Lots of good memories in this place. Maybe someone will swoop in and help spirit Leonard away to retirement properly. Until then, we’ll help him clear out that inventory.
Came upon us much too soon
Then was gone
Like the mountains of the moon
Then the sun came up on a sleepy day
And never went down at night
And the crowd kept on singin’ “Waste Away”
but it just didn’t feel right
And the prince and the drummer and the fire girls
Couldn’t get our guitars in tune
And I knew it was over when the sound man said
“I wish we were still in June”
My little wooden Buddha has the best spot in the house, in terms of keeping an eye on me. He rests right above my TV, facing the couch, in the living room.
And it’s a good thing, too, because I trust his insight.
Or my insight, as it were. Because my little wooden Buddha reminds me to develop that insight through an on-again, off-again meditation practice I’ve tried to keep up with since 2006.
When I am practicing, I find it helpful. I can relax, concentrate, and unspool the tangled wires in my mind. But finding the time, as with anything, is hard. And even when I think I’m starting the habit again, it doesn’t take long for me to fall out of practice.
I often share the National Geographic story that helped me tinker with meditation as a way of life. I figured, if a Buddhist monk was, on paper, the happiest person alive because of meditation, surely it’s worth a try.
There’s also something about a philosophy/religion that tackles attachment and confronts desires that appealed to me. It still does.
So my little wooden Buddha sits up there, eyes closed, palm in palm, waiting for me to sit my butt on a cushion and close my eyes for 10, 15, or 20 minutes. And breathe.
I picked him up in a little gift shop on State St. in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2005 – when the idea of some sort of meditation practiced first took hold. Now, all these years later, he’s still sitting there calmly, waiting for me to begin again.