By Michael Milton

December 3, 2015, 1:45 pm

 

“The Art of Seeing” by Michael Milton

Should we cry?

Should we cry?

CREAM

There is a date

sealed in wax;

‘Expiration.’

Slowly, cream turns

and, ignored,

produces a combustion

that can rip apart its slick-paper confines.

THAT would seem to me to be

the true expiration date.

Cream changes.

And I am impatient with myself

for having lost track of time,

too tired to deal with

the yellowed lumps and curdles

dripping from the counter onto my kitchen floor.

~mm

 

Greek philosopher Epicurus wrote, “The art of living well and the art of dying well are one.”

I never considered the possibility of art in death, only in living.

I recently became a member of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care.  (Yes, I know it’s a mouthful!)  I was made aware of the Center’s existence earlier this year while caring for a friend who was receiving chemotherapy at a local NYC hospital.

At the core of Buddha's teaching is the transient nature of all things

At the core of Buddha’s teaching is the transient nature of all things

He was visited one afternoon by an unassuming woman who asked if she might sit with us.  I was unsure of her “official” capacity.  I bristled.  I always bristle if I think someone might be about to launch into any program of proselytizing.  Yet, she had no program up her sleeve, other than to offer my friend her serene and empathetic presence; “Is there anything you would like to talk about?” she asked.  Or, “May I get you water?”  “Have you seen your doctor today?”  “Can I help you to the bathroom?”

My inner porcupine gradually gave way to a grudging appreciation of her singular dignity and the sense of absolute rightness that she be there with us.  I even stopped competing with her (a competition happening only in MY mind!) to be the one to open the door to the loo for my friend.

Come to discover, she had been a part of intensive studies taught at NYZCCC, where Zen Buddhist monks Koshin Paley Ellison and Robt. Chodo Campbell teach mindful, compassionate and artful ways of ‘being’ with the sick and dying.  Here was Buddha’s 2600 year old practice—with its focus on suffering, old age, sickness and death—put into action in the 21st century.

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About The Author

Michael Milton worked as an Associate Producer with Marty Richards, Sam Crothers and Robert Fryer at The Producer Circle Co. in New York City for over twenty years. Broadway: THE LIFE (2 Tony Awards), SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1 Tony Award), LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (Revival; 1 Tony Award and personal Drama Desk Award), Chita--A DANCER'S LIFE. Film: CHICAGO (Academy Award, Best Picture, Marty Richards). Michael has also co-produced many philanthropic events, including the legendary Red Ball benefitting NYU Medical Center and the New York Center for Children. As a writer, Michael has been featured in The New York Times, 'About Men' column, House Beautiful, Genre Magazine, The James White Literary Review amongst others; wrote the book for two musicals, THE NIGHTINGALE and FARAWAY BAYOU. Co-wrote (with Leslie Gore) the book for children's musical THE MERCHILD.

Michael Milton worked as an Associate Producer with Marty Richards, Sam Crothers and Robert Fryer at The Producer Circle Co. in New York City for over twenty years. Broadway: THE LIFE (2 Tony Awards), SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1 Tony Award), LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (Revival; 1 Tony Award and personal Drama Desk Award), Chita--A DANCER'S LIFE. Film: CHICAGO (Academy Award, Best Picture, Marty Richards). Michael has also co-produced many philanthropic events, including the legendary Red Ball benefitting NYU Medical Center and the New York Center for Children. As a writer, Michael has been featured in The New York Times, 'About Men' column, House Beautiful, Genre Magazine, The James White Literary Review amongst others; wrote the book for two musicals, THE NIGHTINGALE and FARAWAY BAYOU. Co-wrote (with Leslie Gore) the book for children's musical THE MERCHILD.

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