There are phrases that used to crop up due to my verbal blunders. As I’ve become older my clumsy mis-steps tend to be followed by verbal silence and avoidance.
You’d think I’d learn. Well, of course I can learn. However the way my brain works is more linked to visual memory, so communication can be complicated.
I want to tell you about how I’ve been enjoying a daily phone dial in. It’s morning buddhist study for a limited time – a five month campaign. Here’s how it works:
It starts with a 7am conference call and only lasts 5 or 6 minutes. One person hosts the call for 5 days/weekdays, whilst all the participants read the study materials. Two people volunteer each day to read out loud for the group.
It’s the second campaign. Last year, a ‘Hundred Day’ campaign challenged me, got me volunteering, reading out loud to a silent (phones on mute) audience. I joined at the same time every day, loved all the different voices, hearing their individual struggles or efforts to read for themselves and others. It was such a personally beneficial experience! The study and the participants’ daily encouragement lifted my spirits and I felt refreshed at the start of every day.
The first set of materials we read (for this new campaign), were slightly different, more philosophical. They carry a deeper meaning and I feel, need a little more time to digest.
Which is where eating my foot comes in.
I was hosting the conference call dial-in this week. It stared off OK, I wrote my activity plan and bullet pointed reminders – so I could keep up with the week’s hosting. I did my best to encourage people with a welcome and to participate. I forgot to factor in the unexpected.
Thursday was a particularly stirring allegory – where the spirit and actions of a person really count at a crucial, life or death moment.
The short chapter was full of poetic and stoic references to some historical Japanese Samurai and their final battle conversation. The two levels of hearing someone tripping over the difficult and repetitive pronunciation and awareness of the seriousness of the underlying message sent me into a fit of giggles.
I just “heard” Monty Python.
Maybe that’s good sit-com. I hoped it wasn’t a blunder. I ended the conference call as best I could. And today? Well, maybe it was a Friday, 7am thing, but hardly anyone dialled in.
I had already become slightly anxious that my behaviour would have offended some people.
I mentioned my thoughts to the supporting buddhist leader who said with bright confidence, “never mind, every day is a new start”.
I love our buddhist philosophy. Hon Nim Myo means ‘from this moment on’ and is one of the greatest encouragements. No grudges, no self judgement, just whole-heartedly starting again with a fresh spirit of contribution and appreciation. My choice. There’s no need to retreat in my life.
And here’s something Nichiren wrote to a friend way back in 1725: “WHEN a tree has been transplanted, though fierce winds may blow, it will not topple if it has a firm stake to hold it up. But even a tree that has grown up in place may fall over if its roots are weak. Even a feeble person will not stumble if those supporting him are strong, but a person of considerable strength, when alone, may fall down on an uneven path.”
Life is often an uneven path. It really helps to have wise friends, a mentor – and for me a buddhist practise that polishes away the tarnish of my own self-image.
I feel so fortunate to have these three things supporting me!
Have a great day,