Sunday, March 1, 2015

Just Keep Swimming: On Not Trying To Be The Fastest

Last week's work was hard. There are some things going on in my life that made that slogan particularly pertinent, but I think I'm stronger for the attempt.

This week will likely be just as necessary and difficult:
Don't try to be the fastest.
I got a small quiver in my stomach just from reading the card: I definitely recognized myself there. Remembering how I needed both the resources I normally consult, I went first to Unfettered Mind and found they'd translated this slogan as: "Don't be competitive." Their short explanation resonated even more than when I first read the slogan:
"Open to the sense of deficiency, of not being enough, that pushes you to be needlessly competitive."
Did I say "resonated"? I meant "punched me in the gut." Because really, that sense of deficiency is a specter I struggle with regularly. Not just the feeling, but the difficulty of owning it publicly. Like right now - I have to struggle to admit to struggling sometimes.

I turned turned to Judy Lief's response to this slogan with a bit of trepidation, but I needn't have worried. While it's true there has been a time or two when I was left feeling more confused by what Lief had to say, but that's been rare. And when I found the following passage, I realized I've been working towards embodying this tenet even longer than I've been actively studying Buddhism:
Slogan practice is about cultivating both awareness and compassion, both in formal practice and in daily life. Ideally this is one complete package. You don’t try to get somewhere, but you just keep going.
And that made me think of a movie line I've been quoting a lot lately as I navigate my struggles:

The movie itself... I enjoyed Finding Nemo but it's not so much the story as the idea embodied in that gif above that is important. And that advice above, with a touch of mindfulness, is the same kind of thing I found in Lief's advice for how to work with this teaching:
"Notice how the quality of speediness affects your practice and your daily life. Do you feel superior or special because you are faster than others and have passed them by? On the contrary, do you feel of inadequate that others are passing you by and leaving you in the dust?"
So that's what I'll be doing. Until next time, namaste and all that. 

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