North California, November
Action Now! Ecological Convention
On the day the world ended, Lenk Sketlish – CEO and founder of the Fantail social network – sat at dawn beneath the redwoods in a designated location of natural beauty and attempted to inhale from his navel.
The tops of the mountains in the distance were capped with snow, their curves and crevasses kindling the imagination. The trees near at hand were russet on fawn, grey-green on sage. The redwood trunks were solid, corded, patterned like twisted vines, their surfaces soft with mosses and growing grass, tiny insects whirred through the dense mass. The sky was the pale water-washed blue of the late fall, mottled cloud visible through the spiral-tiered branches as Lenk Sketlish looked upward. And yet.
The meditation teacher had a nose whistle.
Each time she took yet another “deep belly breath”, the whine cut through the gentle whisper of the redwoods like a chainsaw. She must hear it. She surely heard it. She did not seem to hear it. The redwoods shivered, the November leaves were about to drop and all things must pass as she could not cease reminding him.
All things were not going to pass from Lenk Sketlish if he had anything to do with it.
“Let your belly be soft as you inhale,” the teacher said. Her tongue lingered on the double l in belly, as if she were Italian. She wasn’t Italian. Lenk had asked Martha Einkorn his executive assistant to check after the first day. The meditation instructor came from Wisconsin, the home of squeaky cheese. She kept saying belly. He should hold light in his belly, feel the warmth in his belly, crawl inside his own belly and dwell forever in her adenoidal whine and her infinitely elongated L. What was growing inside Lenk Sketlish’s belly was an acidic roiling churning wrath.
The redwoods. Back to the redwoods. The majesty of nature, simple beauty. The worn path up the hillside, the tumbling brook. Breathing in, breathing out. The world as it comes moment by moment and he too a part of it. Not scattered, not wrathful, not thinking of the Fantail expansion deals in Uruguay and in Myanmar even though someone was definitely going to fuck something up in his absence.
Be present. Here. Feeling his breath in his navel, the centre of his body, yes good, the navel rising and falling and…. the nose whistle added a new note. Slightly lower than the first. Baritone? Alto? Couldn’t she hear it? Why didn’t she blow her nose before she came to the sessions? Didn’t Martha or anyone on his board or a single one of Martha’s minions find out whether this gold-star-top-of-the-line meditation teacher had a nose whistle? Did they just take everything on trust?
“Breathe within the body,” her voice low and lilting, “nothing is needed from you in this moment.”
This was obviously not true, given that he had to be there, given that his board had told him quite some time ago that if he couldn’t get his anger under control there were real questions whether he had a future at Fantail which was in itself as nonsensical as this woman with a full orchestral wind section in her nose passing herself off as a source of calm. He’d gone along with it, he’d played the game. If they thought they were going to do to him what Ellen Bywater had done to Albert Dabrowski at Medlar, shuffle him out of his own company, well they had another think coming. But they would do it, they’d tell him his leadership style wasn’t working, he wasn’t on a learning journey, they’d edge him out slowly at first and then very fast. He’d seen it. Albert Dabrowski was a cautionary tale. Ellen Bywater ran Medlar now. Where the fuck was Albert Dabrowski? Who the fuck even cared?
“Be truly present in this moment,” the mucal trumpets murmured, “allow yourself to meet the moment with trust.”
He was there to show willingness. He wasn’t an immature baby, he’d run Fantail successfully for more than a decade, built it from nothing but an idea and the sense of a wave building far out in the ocean. In one hundred twenty seven countries in the world now if you wanted to talk to a mass audience you started with a FantailStream, if you wanted to sell something you set up a FantailStore, if you wanted to trade across borders you could use FantailSeamless to pay in FantailCoin. When nation spoke unto nation, they did it via Fantail.