Barry Smith: Irrelativity |

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

Barry Smith
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

Dear Bad Guru,

My instructor keeps griping at me to stop texting during meditation class. What’s the big deal? I find texting very relaxing.

– Connected in Connecticut

Dear Connie,

Texting is a practice that remains full of gray areas. For example, texting while driving is clearly a bad idea, but are you technically “driving” while stopped at a traffic light? Or while going really, really slow, like through a school zone? The spiritual jury is still out. So texting during a meditation class isn’t a clear yea or nay. If you’re texting all that “OMG LOL” crap that the kids are into, then yes, it might be taking away from your practice. However, if you’re texting “Ommmm” to someone who’s currently in the class with you, then how could anyone find fault with that? If anything, that’s taking meditation to the next obvious level.

However, you do want to be respectful of your fellow practitioners. Make sure you set your text notification sound to something meditation-friendly, like a chime or a gong or, for more advanced classes, an ahhh-ooga horn.

Dear Bad Guru,

For months I kept having terribly disturbing dreams. Someone suggested I get a dreamcatcher – that American Indian spiderwebby talisman that you’re supposed to hang over your bed at night. I guess the idea is that the bad dreams get caught in this little dreamcatcher web before they make it to you. I was skeptical but desperate. And you know what? It worked! The bad dreams have gone!

So, my question: Is there a version that works in the waking world, specifically to keep certain types of people away from me? Like some sort of non-dream dreamcatcher that I could hang on my car mirror or maybe over my office door?

– Dreamin’ in Detroit

Dear Dreamin’,

There is such a device. It’s called a jerkcatcher. It looks exactly like a dreamcatcher, only with more feathers. Also a traditional American Indian item, these have not made the transition into new-age culture quite as successfully. This isn’t through lack of trying – it’s just that anyone who would actually try to sell you one is susceptible to being “caught” in it.

You can make your own quite easily, though, even if you don’t have access to “authentic” materials. In a pinch, I’ve gotten some good jerkcatcher results from a hula hoop criss-crossed with silver duct tape. Don’t skimp on the feathers!

Dear Bad Guru,

I’ve heard that you’re suing the author of the bestselling book “The Secret.” Is this true? What’s the story?

– Wondering in Wisconsin

Dear Wondering,

On the advice of my legal counsel, the Bad Attorney, I’m not allowed to reveal many details, but I’ll tell you what I can.

In 2005, the not-yet-author of “The Secret” paid a personal visit to the Bad Guru. The previous day, my first book had just arrived from the printer. Very exciting! But the excitement was quashed later that afternoon when I received a “cease, desist, destroy all copies” legal notice. Apparently there was some copyright violation with my book’s title, “Listen, Do You Want to Know a Secret? Do You Promise Not to Tell? Whoa, Oh, Closer. Let Me Whisper in Your Ear.” Seems like someone in legal would have mentioned this to me earlier, but you have to move on from these things.

So when the soon-to-be-alleged plagiarist showed up at my house the next day, I was not in a good place. When I noticed that her teacup was scorching my coffee table, I absentmindedly handed her a copy of my book to use as a coaster. What the heck, I thought. I have to destroy them all anyway.

She never gave me that coaster back!

Imagine my surprise when, a mere six months later, this woman releases my book, pretty much verbatim and with a far less catchy title.

To answer your question, yes, legal action is pending. But again, best not to get bogged down in these things. You have to move on. Which is why I’m happy to announce that my new book, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. ‘Cause I Try, and I Try, and I Try, and I Try, I Can’t Get No, Oh No No No, Hey Hey Hey, That’s What I Say” will be out next week!

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