"It's a buddha's head," he said. "You make a wish while you're painting in one of eyes. The Japanese say that the buddha will grant your wish so that you'll paint in his other eye."
I looked at this weird thing, thanked him and moved on with my day.
Later, I looked at the sad eyeless thing and figured it couldn't hurt to have a visible reminder of something I wanted. I'm a terrible painter, but I can do a circle and really it wouldn't matter what the eye looked like, just that I knew I was supposed to be working toward something. The question was, what did I want badly enough that I would force myself to paint what might pass for a circle on this head? It couldn't be something simple, I was already good at remembering to save up for the important stuff I wanted so material stuff was out. But what did I really want?
Finally I settled on wishing to be content with what I had. My struggle to find something to wish for had centered on material items, and this was a bit alarming when I sat down and thought about it. Also, I've never really been content with anything in my life - I'm always stiving for bigger, better, newer, nicer. I wanted to just stop for a bit and enjoy where I was and not always be living in the future.
Lately, the buddha's been intruding on my thoughts more frequently. Since I've stopped working, I find myself appreciating the small things. I'm enjoying where I live, even though it's not finished. I'm happy in my marriage. I have some really awesome friends. I have enough money that I can make the bills and still enjoy going out occasionally. I'm slowing down, I guess. I'm not content, per se, I mean there are still a million things I want to do and see and experience. But I am learning to appreciate what I have and where I'm at and live in the moment instead of the future, and that's really what I was looking for.
I'm starting to wonder if buddha hasn't earned his second eye.