Thursday, August 12, 2010

what is it that changes?

Isn't it funny? The lengths we'll go to, the adventures and challenges we'll launch ourselves into, because we think we'll magically discover something different. But when I got here, and I started meeting those challenges, I discovered I was just me, doing something different. As the book says, the only Zen you find at the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring with you. We meet the events of each moment with exactly the person we were the moment before.

Then, through doing something different, the definition of "me" changes. We discover we can respond differently, some of our abilities grow, others shorten, others just change.


Every culture has its acceptable social lies: we say "I love your sweater" and "Thanks for stopping by" when we think "You paid money for that?" and "I didn't need to see you again, ever." Chile's map of social dishonesty is different from ours: they'll be honest and say "You're gaining weight," but something like "Sure, I'll do that this week" might be honest or might be a way of saying "No."

No matter where you are, you only create a lot of suffering by assuming people are jerking you around, even if it feels that way.

I don't know that I'm more patient or tolerant or anything (especially these days, when I'm fried on the experience). I guess I must be? I have a broader and deeper knowledge of the world and its people. It feels a little like Outward Bound did, where yes, things were hard, and yes, I went past what I thought my limits were...but I did it in a way that was pretty much what I expected. Is it really a limit when it's just something you've never tried? When have I tried something I thought I would actually fail at? Or genuinely scared of?

I think I'm being selective about my memory here. Teaching was terrifying, and there's still an aversion, trying to protect myself from its rawness and exposure. There's still that crisis moment when my kids walking through the door, and no matter how I feel about being here, or whether the day's lesson is any good, there are students in my classroom and it's time to step up and teach as best I can, and I do.

It's possible I'm judging myself with a habitually over-high standard, to minimize myself.


  1. I still have that moment, every time I step up to teach, no matter how well prepared I am... I do think it's worth sitting with your standards--I seem to recall you suggesting something similar to me a while back vis a vis my mother skills ;-)

  2. Silly Anna. That's completely different!

  3. Of course it's completely different--I am perfect and you are a Man Who Needs Fixing.

  4. Clearly I've been away too long, your head's gotten all mixed up. You need me around to keep you in line.