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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Peter Pan is an Asshole

Time to grow up.

Joko Beck told me that during a Zen retreat almost 25 years ago. It's taken about 25 years to understand what she meant. Right now, at age 46, I think I'm about 60% there. And that might be a little high.


A kid is only interested what he wants. He wants whatever feels good or tastes yummy. He wants the cookie.

An adult is only interested in what life needs.

It's doubtful anyone is 100% adult. We're genetically predisposed to selfish-behavior. It's hardwired into our survival gear. We can bump the number up, but a 100%?

Someone once said that practice become increasingly more difficult because our 'kid' becomes more subtle. Even enlightened can become the cookie. Unless we're vigilante, we won't realize we've got our arm buried to the elbow in the cookie jar.

I've got kids that are 15 and 18. They're approaching very difficult periods of life. They're not really kids anymore. Not adults. They want all the freedom of adulthood. They want all the yumminess of childhood. They don't realize Peter Pan is an asshole.

Someone once said, "Growing up sucks." I think it was everyone that said that. It's not fun. Letting go of the blankey feels like death. Losing the pacifier is torture. If we don't get the raise, the advance, the house, the book deal, the adulation, the cigarette drink car job clothes vacation spousesexfillintheblank.

Then it sucks.

The saying becomes, "Life sucks."

Because it's not the way we want it.

We don't want to serve life.

It's supposed to be the other way around. Life's supposed to serve us.

When we're 5.




 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Trust is an Oil Filter



Another repair.

I expect cars to never breakdown. I also expect green lights. I'm always disappointed.


My regular mechanic is across town. I couldn't drive that far, so I parked it at a local repair shop, dropped the keys in the night slot. Next morning, I get the call.
"Your oil pump isn't working. And we'll need to replace all the belts and the water pump."
I just replaced the belts and water pump.
"You did?"
Yeah.
"Let me talk to the mechanic."
Let me send a tow truck.
I don't know if a mechanic is taking advantage of me. I took high school auto mechanics but all I learned was how to steal tools. I mean, if he said the hood needs a paint job I'd be a little suspect. But belts, pumps, plugs...I just need it working. Tell me what it costs. I've got to trust him.

We instilled that lesson in our kids, that trust is one of the most critical traits they can develop. The more you lie to us, the more you lie to yourself. That doesn't mean shit to a five year old so I think we said if we trust you, you'll earn more "stuff". We moved to earn more "freedom" when they got older.

Why was this lesson at the top of the list? Because, ONE, it's that important and, TWO, I sucked at it. I threw my grade card in the drain and said I lost it. I said I was late because a dog chased me. It became habit. It caught up to me.

Trust. Sounds easy. Judging by the widespread display of dishonesty by leaders (political, religious, education), it's anything but. Zen has it's own boogers in the woodpile.

  • A Zen teacher so drunk he had to be propped up by students
  • A Zen teacher having sex with his students without telling them he had AIDS
  • A Zen teacher having female students expose their breasts for the sake of practice

Men and women of great intelligence are fallible. Their folly can cause great harm. It is incumbent upon our leaders to know themselves, to do the work to such a degree that their shortcomings--when they manifest--do little damage. A teacher once told me that understanding must precede power.
And Socrates said "The measure of a man is what he does with power."
My regular mechanic, the one I trust, towed the car to his shop.

He fixed it with the correct oil filter.

An oil filter.