I didn’t watch the presidential debate tonight. Instead, I was at a local Tent City (organized homeless encampment), joining with other Tzu Chi volunteers to serve dinner and offer friendship to Tent City residents.
A friend had brought me a gigantic zuchinni from his garden the other day, so I baked a couple loaves of zuchinni bread, put the still warm pans in my panniers and cycled across Lake Washington, smiling at freeway traffic rushing past, simultaneously feasting my eyes on a mind blowing panorama of volcanos, blue open sky, and placid water in the late afternoon sunshine.
I had treated a patient earlier in the week in the clinic who had confided in me that a year ago their stock holdings in Washington Mutual were worth a half million. Today, zilch. The patient was depressed, but obviously okay, and still paying us on the upper end of our sliding scale. What an odd juxtaposition. One person suffering due to having their portfolio shaved by perhaps 25% (a wild guess). Another person, an out of work truck driver shares with me about calling trucking and fishing companies every day, getting the same answer, and remaining upbeat as he remarks how delicious the egg rolls and zuchinni bread taste. What’s the fundamental difference here? Mental outlook.
Speaking of which, I have a confession to make. When we first opened CommuniChi, my intellect told me it was the right thing to do to network with other community acupuncturists in my area, making referrals when someone might benefit from having a clinic closer to their home. We need each other for this movement to grow, I constantly reasoned. But my heart tightened. The underlying competetiveness of my mind of scarcity made it scary to embrace that. Goodness, even my Buddhist philosophical principles told me that based on the law of karma, by helping others, our little clinic would definitely reap positive returns.
Today, I finally stopped having to rely on intellect though. It feels deeply right to help sister clinics in my city get established. Maybe its easier now that our clinic finally feels self-sustaining. Maybe it’s just a natural process we all need to mature through. We try out new ideas and even if they test our limits, we persevere, having faith in their rightness, until suddenly, by sheer force of practice and continual reflection, it just feels natural.
Maybe it’s also an intuitive awakening: This world is in a heap of trouble right now…at least, if you consider that so many people are swept up in panic, confusion, loss, uncertainty…not to mention the billions of impovershed global citizens, already living amidst famine, war, disease, etc. who never had anything to lose to begin with. I get a little impatient when people get a little too New Agey for my tastes, lecturing me that all I need to do is imagine abundance. I suspect their blathering away about “The Secret” at Tent City would not go over very well. But I digress, and perhaps waste my energy railing against what holds only a little truth for me and utter lack of wise discrimination.
We just did a survey of our patients recently, and as a followup, I posted the results on our blog, and in the post, I told people about our wonderful sister clinics in neighborhoods to the north, giving them contact information if for whatever reason, those clinics might fit them better (due to location, style, personality…whatever).
I’m tired now. I was going somewhere with this…aren’t we always going somewhere? Well, time to stop now…time to sit in wordless appreciation and dedication of merit for a few minutes before allowing this vehicle of flesh and bones to idle horizontally. Tomorrow, there is work to do, as there will always be work: Joyful work. Whoever wins the election work. Open your heart, open your mind work. Peace work(s).