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Facing My Superstitions

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

My father told us a story about a man who got a flat tire on a back country road. Lacking a tire iron, he went off towards a farmhouse in the distance to borrow one. Approaching, he noticed that there was no one in the field and thought that they must be having lunch. Approaching closer, he considered that perhaps the farmer might be annoyed at having his lunch interrupted. Walking up the driveway, he worried that, being annoyed, the farmer might not lend him the tire iron. He knocked on the door. The farmer opened it. The man, completely engrossed with his negative fantasy, just angrily growled, "Take the tire iron and shove it where the sun don't shine."

***

My girlfriend's close association with the local Waldorf School, where she is a teacher of manualidades (weaving, carpentry and watercolor) brings me into regular contact with the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. As a result of this, last Tuesday morning I found myself shoveling shit again. Love is strange.

In another program of Biodynamic Agriculture, we were "dynamizing" a small pile of manure; three of us at a time working in harmony around a mound that didn't smell bad at all (apparently due to the cows' diet). The process involved taking a shovelful from the bottom of the pile and dropping it on top. Because our pile was small, at its best, one person is scooping, while the second is lifting and the third is dropping. Then, everyone advances 120 degrees and repeats. The master of the process, Eduardo Rincon, told us it was "a dance."


Another group dynamizing with their own rhythm
***

K. came late to the hour-long process. She arrived as we had achieved a rhythmic harmony. It was like a dance, a synchronized moving meditation.

K. took the shovel and the place of her boyfriend (one of us three who were working at that point) and proceeded to disrupt the flow. She entirely missed the rhythmic unison of scoop, lift, drop; holding her scoop aloft until the next person dropped their load; taking two scoops to our one; advancing too far and fast, so that we were all bunched on one side of the circle, with her treading on my heels. Nor would she be corrected; criticizing me for pointing out the need for rhythm. There were only eight minutes to go. I stuck it out.

I am very superstitious. By which I mean that I am forever reading meaning into ordinary occurrences (except that when you read meaning into them, there are no "ordinary occurrences").

On one hand, this inability to trivialize things is our neurology, our survival mind not wanting to miss a trick. It is our default as humans to concern ourselves, to look and wonder and worry. Yes, 99% of what occupies us is unworthy of such attention, but at least this, our preoccupation, will catch the critical 1% that is important.

On another hand my search for significance in quotidian happenings functions somewhat like a Rorschach test. What I see in these ordinary experiences reveals my inner workings. The interpretation I give to these neutral events is peculiarly mine. Which reminds me of another parable.

A Zen master was walking down a forest path with his disciple. Suddenly, not very far in front of them, a tiger sauntered across the path. After the event the disciple found his voice and blurted out, "It's a tiger!" The master, making it a teaching moment, replied, "It's a tiger for you."

My superstition reflects a prejudice of mine, namely, that things should go smoothly, one peak moment following another. But the world, and my life in it, does not proceed smoothly. It proceeds in jerks and jams. When things are not perfect I complain... to myself, because no one else will listen. I fault myself or, as in the case of last Tuesday morning around the manure pile, I fault others.

But still, I am forced to admit that it is my tiger, my Rorschach test. I am the man walking up to the farm house looking to borrow a tire iron, arriving with his negative preconceptions. So, how do I own this? How do I take responsibility for the lack of harmony around the shit-pile?

I suppose that, very similar to K., I am missing certain rhythms; I am unaware of an available sense of unity or harmony; I make things more difficult, less enjoyable, than they have to be.

I also have to admit that here, on my 63rd trip around the sun, life's jerks and jams are fewer and less. Or maybe it is that I am better at letting them go, not getting hung up on them, not lingering over them as much.

I still sometimes feel bad. But, afterwards, I don't feel as bad about having felt bad. I keep reminding myself that imperfection is part of the perfection and does not have to interrupt the flow. I am more loving to myself... and others. Ask my girlfriend.

**************

Dr David has created Lokkal, a social network that is not commercially-driven (just being launched, starting here in San Miguel) as an alternative to the abuses of social media.

Lokkal will make the world a better place by nurturing community. If you want to join the community, please register. It's a big project to have entirely on my shoulders; if you want to help, please send us a message at the email below.

"Whether it is to be utopia or oblivion will be a touch and go relay race right up to the final moments." - Buckminster Fuller

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