A little while ago I was asked to offer one of my projects as bait for a rather large fish. Ah, you know the ending already. I wasn’t distressed by the outcome really. Well, I was briefly, but having had reservations about the whole thing, I was relieved that the fish spit out the bait (no idea if it took the hook). What I am putting myself through the ringer over is the (eventual) willingness to be bait.
In the process of deconstructing my decisions, I heard various explanations. That’s what you get for wanting to be famous. That’s what you get for wanting their approval. That’s what you get for trying to prove you’re better than they are. That’s what you get for (fill in the blank with some attribute that points to greed, anger, and ignorance). Perhaps. I don’t deny that these baser desires course through my nightmares and day dreams. And yet, there is something else that wasn’t being offered.
We want things. We work hard for recognition, acknowledgment, visibility. But it can’t stop there if it is to be truly the work from the heart. And my decision – ambivalent as I was about it – had at its heart the desire to create accessibility, to open doors. And perhaps I wanted that too much, so much that I was willing to sell my soul for it.
On the funny side, one might say that as a Buddhist and hence not having a soul, I thought it was a pretty cheap trade. My empty soul for a big fish. On the sad side, it was another wake up call to not make assumptions about practice and communities of practitioners. One friend emailed me saying he was sorry my project was “hindered by mundane superficialities.” I liked that. Hindered, not scuttled. It puts it into perspective. It reminded me of a dear friend who used to say, “That’s a non-problem.”
When we have aspirations, we are willing to do what we believe is necessary to achieve them. In fact, wise diligence says we must be willing to do what is necessary to bring something to fruition, to make it real, to realize it. Effort – it’s not just for the cushion. Yet somehow, it’s easier with coming back to the breath than with finding solid ground in the light and shadow of human (and corporate) interactions.
But practice is not about “easy.” Practice is about discovering that edge where we’re entangled in desire and principle.