Saturday, October 29, 2005


Today I was reminded of the story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice. (The SA, if you'll recall, casts a spell on his broom, which then picks up buckets and hauls water. Come time for the broom to stop, the SA is dumbfounded, not knowing that particular spell. Flooding ensues.)

We want to master what is not ours to master. We are preoccupied with pleasing and protecting ourselves. In striving for security, we make ourselves insecure. In seeking knowledge, we baffle ourselves. Pursuing power, we lose the ability to wield it wisely. Driven by ego, we net the opposite of what we're after.

This may seem like a strange topic for a whirlingbetty post, and indeed it is. Now that I know from my Strengthsfinder test that I am strong in "intellection", I feel free to indulge in thought. (Let's hope this doesn't last too long- I'd really prefer to NOT lose my readership.) Plus, I received inspiration from Garnet's poem about safety on his blog Glittering Muse.

The search for safety is what fuels our society's latest trend: "cocooning". Cocooning causes us to choose to stay home rather than venture out into the world. Fear of terrorism, crime and natural disaster has changed our social behavior. We barricade the doors and cover the windows. We order clothing, movies and pizza online, paying dearly to have it all delivered to our cocoons. We refuse to show up and participate in our own social lives.

OK, so what's the solution? Perhaps the Zen approach would be to stop controlling the world and defending ourselves against it. Just be Here Now, totally, completely, with awareness. Just respond to what is actually happening. ("Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."-John Lennon)

Garnet's poem points out that not only do we seek protection (and pleasure, IMHO) for ourselves; we even seek it for others, which reminds me of a story of Anna Quindlen's about her conversation with a homeless man on the boardwalk at Coney Island. This man described how he "wore" his newspapers when the weather turned brutal. Quindlen asked him why he didn't move to a homeless shelter. He stared out at the ocean for a while, then said, "Look at the view, young lady, just look at the view."

"Live and let live" is going to be my motto for a while, and by "live" I mean Here and Now, with awareness, responding to what really happens, and appreciating the view while I'm at it.


garnet said...

Well told, an introspective story which ties your life to others.

Anonymous said...

sono itliana,non parlo bene inglese,ho capito solo il motto finale.vivi e lascia vivere.è anche il mio motto e sono vissuta fino ad oggi rispettando tutti,con le loro religioni,usi,vizi e virtù.anch'io vivo la mia vita a modo mio senza avere avuto grossi problemi.Se la filosofia zen ti aiuta a vivere,bene,segui il tuo istinto.Kate

ME Strauss said...

I love your ability to pick up and keep walking, your life, your hope your energy. Don't worry I'm not fooled. I know you don't have it every moment--nor do I--but I know you have more than most and I love it all.

That's the long view where I sit.

taikochan said...

As usual, enjoying your highly addictive blog, Betty. Makes me think of my uncle -- who, like the man in the story, was homeless for years because that was the life he wanted to live. No one knew where he was for years, until he eventually decided to get a job, and recontact the family. He now looks at that time as deciding in terms of his spirituality (which is odd, to say the least) and probably even the high point of his life.
Though on the other hand, when he contacted the family again, his father had been dead for over 10 years.
Small wonder we stay tucked in our safe little lives.

Betty said...

Thank you, Garnet.

Kate, I wish I could read Italian.

Liz, you're definitely on to something. While typing this post I was wondering who the person was who was doing the writing- not the Betty I know! I must be trying to teach myself through this blog. We'll see how that goes....

Taikochan, I am fascinated that you have a formerly homeless uncle who considers the homeless phase a high point. Wow. I hope he had made peace with his father. It reminds me to be sure to tie up loose ends before becoming homeless myself (it's an odd fantasy of mine).

garnet david said...

Betty-to your resonse to Liz- Yes...we can write ourselves new thoughts and attitudes, can't we?

taikochan said...

I should add that my formerly homeless uncle ALSO thinks that he is the messiah...