Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Are You Pushy?

I am pushing it.  Not the door.  The boundaries of what I said I would do.  I said I would post a piece of art for 30 days and technically the picture hanging just above us is a piece of art.  It's photo art, not something glued or pasted or painted.  Not the usual.  And I didn't take it today.  It reminds me a bit of "miksang" photography where the aim is to see things in a new and fresh way.  I took this on the ferry to Cortes Island a while back.  I had a lot of fun taking  pictures of parts of the slightly tub-like ferry.

The little torn push seemed profound to me somehow.  Isn't that what we do a lot of the time.  We push in subtle (and not so subtle) ways to get what we want, to control our environment.    I noticed the subtlety of my wanting and pushing today in conversation with my partner.  I asked a question and then for some reason I noticed something I probably do quite often.  Just the look on my face, the tone of voice, a certain tightness of presence carried a message about the answer I wanted.  It wasn't a question asked with an open, waiting quality.  There was a quality of wanting.  And as I became aware of it I could let it go and open.  And interestingly, I  could feel myself relax.  I was released from being the answer police, pacing back and forth waiting for the "right" response.  A small example of how we  push to control our world.

We push at our partners.  We want them to please us, make things easy, do what we want.  We push at our children, thinking we know best, they should just do things our way, it would be easier for everyone.   We spend an inordinate amount of time trying to push and mould the world into something that pleases us.  When in fact, as I realized today, this is stress producing behaviour.  Is it Dogen who said "the way is not difficult for those who do not pick and choose."  The effort we exert in the pushing not only tires us out and wears us down, but if we really got it, we'd see how futile it is. We  know in our heads  that "we are not in control here" but frequently forget it as we go about our business.  

And as always there is a flip side to push (no it isn't pull).  There are places in our lives where a little push can be a good thing.  I'm thinking of my old friends sloth and torpor.  They need a good push every once in a while.  And how about our training.  Sometimes we need to turn up the heat a bit on that.  I will end with one of my favourite quotes from Dogen: "Train like your hair is on fire."  This has always grabbed me on so many levels, just the image of someone (me) running down the street with their hair on fire, does it get any more urgent than that.  Now I'm thinking of a new personal Zen grooming product, perhaps hair igniter, followed by a spritz of cool mint hair extinguisher.  Ah if it were only that easy.

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