07 January 2009
Things have been a bit unsettled at chez Teabird, so much so that the best hour of the day often is the drivetime to and from work. Sometimes I enhance my happy hour by listening to an audiobook. "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, " for example, was a total delight, and made me a much better companion at home and at work. (Not that I ever get snarky. Not me.)
I've been listening to "The Path to Tranquility written by the Dalai Lama, and read by (amongst others) Laurie Andersen (whose voice is one of my favorite sounds. Ever.)
Sometimes a sentence just bongs. Forgive me, I don't remember the exact wording, but the Dalai Lama says that one should practice (cultivate?) patience to avoid disappointment. Now, I've read about curtailing one's expectations (in my case, at times, to nothing) to avoid disappointment. I've applied (imperfectly) the philosophies of knowing you only can control what you do and be mindful of your own choices.
But - bong! - what is patience? Without a dictionary in the car, I couldn't look up preferred or archaic meanings. Obviously, the Dalai Lama was not referring to the game, Patience, nor the lion, Patience, nor the operetta. Just as well, really, that I didn't have a dictionary, because it made me think of meanings, implications, and images. The famous image of the shifting woman/vase came to mind first.
Is patience active or passive? Are you patiently awaiting something to appear, happen, or grow? If the change doesn't occur, your disappointment might result in good changes : new methods of gardening, for example, or better ways of teaching your child to read. Disappointment might be a good outcome.
If you are patiently observing eternally unchanging, what is the reason to observe? It's illogical to be disappointed if you don't expect change or growth, and yet - even the static object will change as light shifts, or shadows pass by. Where would disappointment even come into the equation?
I do realize that my thoughts lack coherence (does the phrase "half-baked" apply?), but I wonder if I even want to avoid being disappointed. The path of no-expectation in the real world doesn't encourage lovingkindness or activism. It builds a ripe nest for entropy. That can't be right. And that's why listening to the Dalai Lama and waiting for the bong! moment really can make my day - because I know I'm listening to something right, and it steers my wrongheaded mind.
(When I first started to mull this over, my friend Maven mentioned Seneca, who said that man would cease to be disappointed if he would abandon hope itself. Now I have another way to spin...)