Zen, in my unresearched impression, is focused on the be-ing of things. In common parlance, be-ing is defined by that perfect slogan for acceptance: It is what it is. No point in arguing with a post about your requirement for a shovel. The post is the post and you’re more efficient to accept it in all of its woody postness. Through be-ing, you can divorce yourself from expectations and surrender to what is.
This is a good thing, surrendering to what is. This is a very good thing.
Except, like an epiphany, you can’t live there. One of my favorite memories from college is going to the park on Friday afternoons to study math with a not-boyfriend we’ll call Bubba Hyde. He taught me differential equations because I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t a dunce when it came to math. When my head was full of x’s and y’s, he’d push me on the merry-go-round.
(Digression: when did the merry-go-round as a playground staple go out of style?)
I’d lay in the center and spin. This was eastern Washington State and if you’ve ever been out there, the clouds are bigger and puffier and whiter than they are anywhere else in the world. It was surrender to the wonder of “it just is,” and as complete of a surrender as I’ve ever managed.
(note to self: add a merry-go-round to your fantasies of a dream house.)
I’d go back to that park, that merry-go-round, the inexplicable delight I took in Bubba’s clove-flecked eyes a minute, but surrender is a place to revisit, it isn’t a place to live. Eventually you get hungry and it gets dark and all that wonderful surrender must, by the nature of the reality you just surrendered to, turn into do-ing.
Everyone’s list of be-ing is a cluttered mess of experiences, personality traits, biological and evolutionary imperatives and noble impulses. Mine isn’t any prettier than the next guys. But here’s the universal challenge: make peace with the be-ing. It is what it is. That list is as recalcitrant as that post that refused to become a shovel. Accept it, surrender to it, and then let it be. Just as the post doesn’t determine whether some other composition of the elements will or won’t turn into a shovel, your be-ing doesn’t have to determine your do-ing.
Accept your be-ing. Choose your do-ing.
And find yourself a merry-go-round. I don’t care if you’re too old for that kind of foolishness. So am I.