Posts Tagged ‘Fame’

no shoes

May 19th, 2017    -    1 Comment

I met plenty of powerful people in interesting situations before I began my practice.

I met the heads of some of the world’s largest companies.

I met the founder of Enron before his titanic collapse.

I stayed too long having cocktails with the Governor of Texas and missed my flight home.

I saw a President of the United States having a club sandwich on a sun deck outside a hotel.

I met Frank Sinatra when he was still doing it his way.

I met a Super Bowl quarterback, a Hall of Fame pitcher, and the general manager of the New York Yankees.

I met three Heisman Trophy winners, including one who would be acquitted of the crime of the century.

I met a half-dozen television anchors, two big-city mayors, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.

None of this was because of me, but because when you are a young woman in business, certain doors open to you.

What I remember about all of these fellows is that they were well-dressed. (Except for the writer.) And by that I mean they wore fine shoes: expensive and polished to a mirror shine. Because when it comes right down to it, shoes really do make the man.

And then I met the most powerful human being I’ve ever encountered, in the most uninteresting situation imaginable, and he wore no shoes.

He wore no shoes.

***

Everyone you ever meet is holding up a mirror to you. If you like what you see, it’s because it validates or elevates your self-image. If you don’t like it, it’s because you’ve seen some aspect of yourself that you’d rather hide or run away from.

A teacher is a mirror. A good teacher is a mirror without any distortion, which is to say, no judgment. From time to time, my teacher will say something that completely offends my ego. He will say, “I don’t care what you think about yourself.” This is actually the deepest and most compassionate form of caring. It means that what I think about myself is never true. This can be a shock, but it can also be a profound relief, like kicking off the shoes that are killing you.

Seeing yourself clearly seems like it would be the simplest thing in the world. Just look! But to see what’s here we have to slowly, painstakingly wipe away all the ideas, images and narratives sticking to us. We have to drop the costume that got us inside the door in the first place. This can be painful, but there is fresh-faced innocence on the other side of the mask.

The world’s largest companies don’t stay that way forever. Eventually they collapse, merge, shrink, or disappear in the churn of commerce.

The founder of Enron died in disgrace and exile. Some think it was suicide.

The governor lost re-election because he signed a law making high schoolers pass classes before playing sports.

The president lost too, for raising taxes when they needed to be raised.

Sinatra got old, got sick and died. What people remember are his early years.

The famous athletes, except for the murderer, retired to the oblivion of a record book.

Paper is dust; TV is yesterday; stars go dark.

But the Dharma never dies.

Never dies.

***

You might want to think about coming to a retreat.

how

June 26th, 2013    -    11 Comments

owners-manual-translation

How can we live fearlessly?

With more freedom, kindness, joy and compassion?

By living differently.

1. Blame no one.
2. Take no offense.
3. Forgive.
4. Do not compare.
5. Wash your face and leave it bare.
6. Forget about your hair.
7. Grow old.
8. Have no answers.
9. Seek nothing.
10. Go back to 1.

a moment of shame

March 24th, 2013    -    20 Comments

Let it be well understood: once desire for the truth arises, the desire for fame and riches will disappear in a moment.
– Dogen Zenji

I worked for a few days on a blog post. It expressed my feelings perfectly—outrage, cynicism, moral superiority—but I just couldn’t bring myself to put it up. Then I saw this quote and it corrected me instantly! I was ashamed of my bluster and threw it out.

There’s a lot of psycho/spiritual talk out there. Shame on me if I add to it. All around me are better teachers innocently delivering an instantaneous correction. Who don’t busy themselves talking mighty talk while sitting on comfy sofas or chairs. The purity of their faith and the discipline of their practice humbles me.

When it comes to authenticity and humility, I’ll throw in my lot with a Pope who rides the bus. For courage and vulnerability, I’ll take the TV host who trades fame for farming. For gratitude and compassion, look to the billionaire who gives 99 percent of his wealth to charity. For a teacher, follow anyone who actually gets down on the ground and helps sick babies and teen mothers and old people, the homeless, hopeless and unwanted—while unpaid and unseen.

As for me, I hardly help anyone at all except when I roll down my window at the stoplight and hand a dollar bill to the lost soul on the corner. That’s my master class. I can really learn from people who don’t try to teach me a thing. Who aren’t selling me a credential or an e-course.  People who have more important things to be than right or wise or popular.

Let me well understand myself. Let me be quiet. Let me do good.

 

The half-life of Susan Boyle

July 26th, 2009    -    8 Comments


Half-life: The time required for something to fall to half its initial value

Last week my nine-year-old was in the chorus at what was billed as an All Stars Concert for 60 kids in a summer theater program.

Just do the math and you know that 60 kids can’t All be Stars but try selling that to the kids or their parents who paid admission.

The day before the show, she fairly exploded with expectation. Then show time came. We couldn’t see her in the second row of 60 kids sing her heart out, but we know she did a fine job. Walking to the car after, she said, “I’m depressed.” Stardom will do that, apparently. The high lasts through one rendition of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” before you’re slammed back to the hard pavement of the parking lot, as we see so painfully time after time.

I mean no insult to my daughter, or anyone else’s ambition, but our cult of stardom, this collective craving for instant inflation, the plucked-from-obscurity-to-overnight-hysteria thing, has me vaguely ill, as though I’ve been overfed.

We seem to have become sensation junkies. Each week a new sensation goes viral, whether it’s astonishment à la Boyle, grief à la Jackson, or this week’s cherry on top, the wedding dance being sensationalized for its “novel way of sharing matrimonial joy.”

Everyone puts on a good show. Indeed, All are Stars.

But gravity always has the last word. The simple cruelty of physics brought Susan Boyle swiftly low and likewise ensured that Michael would never rise to the occasion. I too, feel depressed, after I blow up ballooning expectations that inevitably blow up.

Now we have newlyweds that have reached, within a month of their nuptials, a summit that will surely never be scaled again. Two Today Show appearances in two days. Perhaps next they’ll be invited to have a beer at the White House. I know a thing or two about marriage, and this honeymoon would be hard for any ordinary couple to recover from.

Most of us have never seen anything like it, but there’s a veritable YouTube subgenre of choreographed wedding dances out there, the couples spreading their ambition for matrimonial joy by breaking into breakdance and hip hop, then posting it on YouTube just for friends and family. Tell me: are you surprised? These plucky couples and their videos feed the diet of morning news shows which are front and center in the televised wedding business. Weddings are already afflicted with an increasingly outrageous need to trump all. Don’t you know thousands, maybe millions, of betrotheds are now scrambling to top a new bar in the wedding-as-viral-video department?

When did we stop seeing the obvious? Viruses make us sick, and can even kill.

I hope Georgia picks herself up and keeps going for the love of performing. I hope Susan Boyle endures for the love of song. I hope the happy couple stays together in anonymity and health, as I wish for all couples. And I hope Michael Jackson rests in eternal peace.

As for me, I’m going away to a place where I can practice spreading another kind of sensation: obscurity.

Don’t worry, you’re safe. It’ll never go viral.

What to make of it

May 10th, 2009    -    11 Comments


Last night at a neighborhood party, my daughter and her nine-year-old friends put on a show that was shocking and lewd.

I was embarrassed and alarmed.

Frank Rich’s column in the Times includes this fact “more than 60 percent of Twitter users abandon it after a single month.”

I’m still afraid the future will sail without me.

On speakerphone so we could wish her a happy mother’s day, my mother-in-law asks, “What will your mommy do today?” My daughter says, “Exercise and write by herself.” My mother-in-law replies, “Doesn’t she do that everyday?”

I never know where she’s coming from.

Wish Studio posted this essay describing my creative process, which seems like a misnomer. My output is painstaking and small but I get a big kick out of looking the part.

Break the bottle, make a space and let it be.

The altar where I pray

March 30th, 2009    -    21 Comments

I do not pray at this altar, where every security is an insecurity, every gain is a loss, givers are takers and enough is never enough.

I do not pray at this altar, gasping for 15 seconds of helium, inflating my ambition into giddy dizziness until it falls as sure as gravity to a distant, forgotten echo.

I do not pray at this altar, a sucker’s bet that masks life’s own majesty with a huckster’s exploitation, hides authentic wisdom with wishful delusion, and undermines trust with fear.

I do not pray at this altar, vesting faith in a celestial heaven, a future judgment to save myself from a hell of my own making.

I do not pray at this altar, to the relic of a stone replica, a lifeless imitation of the truth.

I pray at this altar, to be free of the stain of resentment, the residue of anger, the stubborn scrub of ego’s baked-on bias, and to shine in the clear rinse of awareness, because there is only one place to bring love to this life, and somebody’s got to do it.


Where do you pray?

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