Thursday, January 12, 2012

Just Keep Walking

First substantial snow of the year today. It's been snowing all day and by tomorrow afternoon they say we'll have about 6" on the ground. It's hard to complain for one obvious reason and for one less obvious one.

The obvious one is that we have had extraordinarily pleasant weather this year. As late as yesterday, i was out running under clear skies with a temperature of 52F. And by late next week, the temperatures should return to the upper 30Fs to lower 40s. If anything, as winter running weather that should be called pleasant — certainly not cold.

The less obvious reason came from my yoga teacher the other day. When they started talking about this storm days ago, she started actively hoping for it. Why? Because her neighbor, who works in construction and landscaping during the rest of the year, counts on making money over the winter by plowing snow. No snow, no work. His contracts stipulate that there has to be more than 1" on the ground before he can plow and bill his clients. We haven't had that once this winter. No snow, no work; no work, no income; no income, no xyz... you name it.

Makes me feel incredibly selfish for hoping for no snow this year. How many times have i written here that we all lead very selfish lives, even though most of us would deny it. We give to charities, we volunteer our time, we go out of our way to consider others, etc... how could you call me selfish?

If that's how you interpret it, you are missing my point. There is a difference between not being selfish and being selfless. There is a difference between thinking of others and not thinking of yourself. There is a difference between noticing others and not living from that place where the distinction between oneself and others doesn't set the rules you live by.

No matter how far you have walked on this path, no matter how high you have climbed the mountain, there will always be a piece of you defined by the 'you' found on your ID card. It's foolish to think you can or should try to get rid of that piece. It's an important and useful tool.

Yet, that piece of you is lazy — luckily for us. The further you walk this path, the higher you climb the mountain, you begin to notice that that 'you' contentedly stays behind, sitting leisurely at the starting line. You begin to notice that it is an entirely different 'you' doing the walking and climbing. And that you is the real you.

The lazy, fake you always (ALWAYS) looks out for it's own interests. Should i volunteer time? Would that interfere with my yoga classes? Should i donate money? Will i be able to afford that new iPhone next month? Should i start an intense practice of right speech? I should, i'll be a better person. Should i meditate regularly? Of course, i could get enlightened.

Every decision this 'you' makes goes through the gate of "I." "I" sets all the rules for the game of life you currently play. The other you, however, sidesteps this gate. It sees it, and knows that on occasion it needs passing through to get things done, but in general it wanders the roads and hills away from that gate.

Is there a need for volunteers somewhere? Yes? Then make an offer, with zero regard to any rewards you may or may not obtain. Are you living in poverty, barely making ends meet each month? No? Then see where you can offer some of your extra so that those that are get some relief, with zero regard for any recognition you may or may not get. Does the person who just got on the bus use a cane? Or is elder? Then give up your seat; not because they need it but simply because you can. Acknowledge their thanks, but immediately let it leak out your ears and give it no further thought.

Do you want to start a start a solid Buddhist practice? Forget the four noble truths. Forget the eight-fold path. Forget right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right any of those. Start a practice of "right i."

Every time you do something, every time you say something, every time you think something... stop and notice that little piece of "I" that was involved. It's elusive and this will take serious practice and serious time, but it can be done. That's all you have to do is notice. Then say something like, "Ew, there it was. That sneaky little bastard." And move on. Over time as "I" finds it's not all that welcome anymore, it will find that beach chair and a beer and simply sit on the start line, assuming that you will, like you always did before, come back to it when you tire of the new game.

Only this time, you just keep walking.

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