Friday, October 31, 2014


I've been doing my chosen work for 17 years now, and after all that time, it feels like I am practicing a craft.  In fact, I believe we all are.  Or we all can be.  Craft comes from noticing and refining the finest nuance of the work.  For me, it comes in noticing the cultural context of the people I'm talking to, their emotional space, and many other indicators, and then adjusting my words, my body language, pace to them, so that I they feel "held."  The goal, of course, is that they will not notice that I'm doing this.

Like fine cabinetry, you don't necessarily see every touch of the cabinet maker, but you do see that work is fine.  This is what results when we bring pure awareness to our craft, whatever it may be.  Of course the benefit to the person who is practicing the craft is that they experience pure awareness.


Today there was some very difficult news from the family.  It's funny how news like that turn you into someone else in an instant.  Like adding on a room to your house.  I shared the news with a couple of trusted friends, but by the end of the day I just wanted to sit quietly, socialize and not talk about it anymore.

At the neighborhood pub, there were friendly faces and other things to talk about.  With a part of my awareness I noticed how the amber light in the pub was reflecting around the room; bottles, mirrors, even the varnished walnut surface of the bar seemed to participate.  The light seemed to penetrate these items, and when it came out, it was thick and rich and it seemed to be spreading warmth to all of us.

At home, I kept the lights low and started cooking.  Usually I have music on, but I left it quiet last night so I could focus on the warmth of my home and the elemental tasks of cooking.  Through all of this, the difficult news was still there, but so was the magic; reflected light, friendly faces and the feel of my knife chopping an onion.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Laughter, Elightenment

Today I'm walking down the quiet streets of Eugene with my friend, returning to the office from lunch.  The streets here are lined with trees, some reaching all the way across the street.  At this time of year, the leaves have turned, and we walk under a tunnel of gold, brown and yellow.  And then I say something that my friend thinks is awfully funny.  She starts laughing, so hard that she has to stop walking.  Her laughter makes me laugh, and it makes me say more things that make her laugh more.

When the laughter dies down, we realize that we have been completely present for a few minutes.  Sure it's a break from our cares.  But also, when we return to our cares, we see them in a new way.  Now they are just cares, to be dealt with.  They are not the real world.  We have just come from the real world, a world of quiet streets and autumn leaves in brilliant colors.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Calm Language

Today I'm at the office, lost in business, multi-tasking.  And as I rush through the reception area, there is a colleague standing there with a family of three; Mother, Daughter, Son.  They look lost.  And the colleague says "Bob do you have a moment?"  The family doesn't speak English, and she needs an interpreter.

I really don't have time, and thinking about taking the time puts me in a bit of a panic.  How will I get all this stuff done with these constant interruptions?  I'm so busy, I'm not thinking clearly, but I can't see it in the moment.  I put on my welcoming smile and invite the family into the conference room.  And I am transported.

Suddenly, I'm doing social work.  There is some tension between Mother and Daughter, and I have to concentrate to gather the subtle clues that inform my work of untangling the controversy.  In addition, I am speaking Spanish and interpreting, which takes even more concentration.  Quickly, I'm in the flow, working.  All other distractions fade and then disappear.  As the talk progresses, I find out the Sister speaks English, but the Mom doesn't.  When I use a few words of English, I can see the distance in Mom's eyes, and the cultural gulf that separates Daughter from Mother.  I make some jokes, and they both connect through laughter.

All is not solved, of course, but the tension is reduced, and we make a plan.  And as I leave the conference room, I notice all the busyness in me has gone.  And I notice too, that I am not as busy as I thought I was.  So I've received a free gift today; a moment in perfect concentration, a moment that set me free from my runaway thoughts.