Tuesday, May 23, 2006
What Is the Sound of One Bitch Slapping?
So. I have now been practicing Japanese-style zazen (silent meditation, both sitting and walking) for about a month. I've left the sangha I'd been sitting with on Thursday nights and begun practicing at the Chicago Zen Center, which offers the community I need under a teacher who impresses me mightily.
(Also, I get to wear a kicky brown floor-length robe.)
The upside of this is that I notice already a shift in my bearing. Less of my time is spent fuming over things that make me angry, more of it is spent being productive.
You might not think that facing a wall for 30 minutes a day at home, with an additional two hours or so at the zendo (meditation hall) twice a week would make much difference in a person. I certainly didn't expect it. And to be sure, I'm not becoming a goggle-eyed automaton. I still want to slap at least twelve idiots upside the head every day.
The change is more like the faint tinge of green you'd see at the base of a plant which appeared dead a month ago, but which with water and care is beginning to show the smallest sign of revival.
Certainly nobody else would notice such a subtle shift, right?
Wrong. Other people are making it crystal clear to me what a sour-pussed bitch I've apparently been.
I came into work a couple days ago feeling good, but not radiant. Just a normal me, on a normal day, following the usual routine.
Passing the reception desk, I said good morning, then went upstairs to my office. I'd just sat down in my chair when the phone rang. It was the receptionist.
"Um, Franklin," she whispered. "You can tell me. I'll keep it a secret. You're so...happy...today. Did you get a new job?"
Later that day, I was in conference with my boss regarding a pain-in-the-ass bullshit project that's been plaguing us for weeks. He told me a point of design about which I had been adamant was being overturned at the caprice of a big-spending volunteer. I said that on reflection, it didn't seem like such a big deal and I was fine with the change.
My boss leaned over the conference table and said, "Is there something you'd like to tell me? Did you get a new job?"
Still later, there was a small meeting of about seven of us from different teams within the organization. Nothing remarkable about it at all, that I noticed.
Afterward, I stayed to go over copy writing with one of the directors. We were in mid-edit when she sat back in her chair, crossed her arms and said, "Come clean. You're out of here, aren't you? I can totally tell. You're in much too good a mood."
When I was about five years old and living in Tucson, Arizona, my kindergarten class received monthly visits from a Native American teacher. He taught us a bit about the indigenous culture of the area and over the course of the year gave some of us "Indian" (his term) names.
Mine was Little Thundercloud.
Now I guess I understand why.