back in the saddle again

Sometimes the universe screws around with you a bit.

I am back to being head chiden at the temple again.  In the same weekend I was invited to again be head chiden, my boss’ half-time scheduling support (at my day job) left to be full-time support for someone else, and I was invited to again be my boss’ executive assistant.  There was less “option” involved in this invitation than with the return to the head chiden gig. I was originally hired to be the boss’ executive assistant, and then the job grew and I got promoted, and now I am scheduling again until we find a replacement.

I struggled momentarily to find some grand meaning in the fact that I was once again head chiden and executive assistant, fearful that one way to look at it was that I was losing ground.   Perhaps the universe was telling me something?  That I had forgotten a lesson, that I needed to go backward along the path already traveled, pick up something I had missed?  For so long I had the idea that I had to keep moving forward.  I thought I had to accomplish one thing after another and that each accomplishment had to rest on top of the last.

Both of these gigs, being head chiden and being executive assistant, are roles I love.  I was reminded of that when a couple Saturdays ago during the dharma talk I looked at the beeswax candles on the altar and noted that the main candle was dripping wax down the side, a result of causes and conditions, perhaps an asymmetrically loaded wick or unstable base combined with inadequate seating of the brass follower that cradles the top of the candle.  I noted the drips dispassionately at first until I remembered that I was again head chiden and that one of my duties was to care for the beeswax candles, and that I would be the one to carry the candle down to the chidening area, lighting it to warm and soften the wax, trimming the candle to a level surface, cleaning the wax out of the follower.  I would be the one to watch how the candle was performing after that, visiting it after service in the morning, slightly twisting and seating the follower again if all was well.  Some part of my mind is reserved for observing these candles now, monitoring their well-being, giving assistance in the form of continued seating and trimming if necessary, supporting the activities of candles fulfilling their destinies to live complete temple candle lives.  It is how I imagine a mother always has one part of her mind observing the activities of the child, watching and listening perhaps even without conscious attention for any assistance that might be helpful to offer.

In much the same way, being an executive assistant is supporting the activities of the CEO fulfilling his destiny to live a complete CEO life. He has other roles to be sure, but my concern is limited to just this.   When he is in the office I have his daily calendar with me, either mentally or on paper, and whatever else I am doing that day I am also following his day, knowing when meetings are running over and the participants of the next meeting need to be informed, or perhaps going to stand silently by the door of the meeting room, where even just by my sudden appearance he might bolt out of his absorbed huddle and look at his smartphone to see if he’s supposed to be going somewhere else.  I am following his day to see that he gets fed, that he has the materials he needs for his meetings, to see if he has time for a quick phone call with someone who urgently needs to speak with him in Mexico or DC.

To me this is all about love.  I don’t want to be melodramatic about it, because I don’t have a specific attachment to either beeswax candles or this particular CEO.  These candles and this CEO are certainly worthy of love, but I felt this way even about supporting the famous scientist I worked for before, who was not nice to a lot of people.   They are all worthy of love, nice or not, but it’s not even about that – it’s about the warm feeling I get in the center of my chest when I think about taking care of things and people, paying attention to them, honoring the activities of their lives, honoring the nobility of things and people taking their place in the universe.

Sometimes things are changing in a way that seem to be moving your self and your life forward, moving toward something or away from something, and then you look around and the idea begins to form that perhaps the movement lacks purposefulness or directionality after all.  This idea, when it strikes, it is not comfortable.  I don’t think this current crop of humans enjoys the idea of directionlessness.

But just to love: isn’t that everything?

About gretchen

Gretchen lives in San Francisco. She writes about Zen practice and mundane moments on a planet that is increasingly ... hot.
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5 Responses to back in the saddle again

  1. Eric Walters says:

    ” But just to love: isn’t that everything?”

    You have there a full length novel in one sentence!

    That is exactly it. It is easy to forget that sometimes.It is NOT always easy.
    My oldest friend has bought into the”rhetoric of the negative” as purveyed by certain purveyors of fear radio.
    My friend Lynn says he needs to have an “us” and “them” to feel like he has definition. His favorite group to demonize is-as you might guess- Muslims.
    I point out that there are people behaving badly in ALL groups- and many people in all groups treating others well. I recount kindnesses done me by various members of the group “them” and he finds rhetoric on Fox “proving” they all have ulterior motives.
    I suppose it’s possible that my life experiences with a wide variety of “us” has ruined me in terms of xenophobia. I sometimes tease him by pointing out that I may BE one of THEM. 🙂
    I contend that most of “them” are “we”, and have frequently pointed out that if he opposes Gay Marriage- simply do NOT marry a Gay person. I cannot understand how someone else being happy interferes with his happiness.

    “But – just to love: isn’t that everything?”

    Cheers, Eric

  2. gretchen says:

    And I thought writing a novel would be difficult!
    I think your oldest friend is very sophisticated to realize that the purpose of the “us” and “them” is to create self-definition. Most of us are doing just that using formats that are so much more subtle and insidious that it’s difficult to notice even that we’ve created the “us” and “them.”
    I love your your comment about not marrying a gay person – hilarious!
    Thanks for reading and for your comments.

    • Trisha says:

      Tha’s my idea to save money! I bough a candle mkaing kit because i am a beginner and love candles very much,but they are too expensive,so i am hoping to save some money by learning how to make my own. So here I am looking for some good videos on candle mkaing.

  3. shundo says:

    Indeed, love does not need any direction, or any directions.

    • Samuel says:

      Hi Elze,Thank you for that info. Now I know when to roam around Tampines cetarnl park again =)Hi Jeanne,We surely hope Japan recovers soon. Let’s keep praying and support local govt/ngo efforts to help Japan.Thank you both for leaving a comment

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