Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Do a half a day or do life

There are days, like yesterday that should make me grateful – well at least according to the Dahli Lama. The idea being that those who give us reason to practice our faith and our patience, actually allow that faith to grow. But there isn’t a halo above my head quite yet and I have had more than my share of people who “help my faith grow” In Buddhism we call that “polishing one’s Buddha Nature.” There are those who would say “forget the past...”

But as anyone who has every seen Star Trek V: The Final Frontier knows, sometimes pain can have a reason. In the movie Spock’s Brother offers to take away Jim Kirk's pain (and by that he means emotional pain). Jim Kirk, in the person of William Shatner, has a very direct reply:

“Damn it, Bones, you're a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They're the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away. I need my pain. It’s part of who I am.” – William Shatner as Jim Kirk in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Being born a hermaphrodite, as I was, it is sometimes like having lived two lives in one lifetime. The transition between the two were some of the toughest times and were also the cause such conversations as the one below, which took place in a crowded office mind you, in front of other people:

Co-worker: “So. Can you have an orgasm?”
Me (without missing a beat): “Why are you offering?”

Mind you this was long before I had even thought of becoming a nun – or rather long before God ever put the desire there. But there are times like these that, all together, try one’s soul. People sometimes go through their lives offending anyone they choose, whether it is with a snide comment, a dirty look, or outright filth. Many do so without any thought of reprisals. But then we hear about someone in the paper who just snapped. For example, a few months ago in the City of Chicago, someone walked into an office building near where I work – walked into the office of a patent attorney and shot him dead. That is when we hear the persons family, friends and neighbors say “But he was such a quiet man” as they scratch their heads in befuddlement.

For years an article hung on the bulletin board above my desk. It was given to me by a former co-worker. The article was by a psychiatrist and it was entitled “I saved your life and you never even knew it.” It was all about all of the people who had come in to his office and told him how they had intended bodily harm to a co-worker or supervisor.

I can think back on the people I have worked with over the years who were certain that everything they did was of earthshaking importance. It had to be done, and it had to be done NOW. The end result? One died of stomach cancer before he had a chance to retire. Another died six months after he retired. One died of a heart attack on the job. Yet another got sick at work and asked to go home. That night she was dead. I remember listening to a co-worker on an elevator (and yes this woman was a heavy smoker) “huffing and puffing like a grampus” to use a line from the play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.” The next day she too was dead.

So before you get stressed out. When you think that whatever is stressing you is of earth shaking importance. Do what I do. Stop. Take some time out. Remember.

It is better to take a half a day than do life.

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