― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart:
Heart Advice for Difficult Times
"It is only when the mind is free from the old that it meets everything anew,
and in that there is joy.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti
|Bodhidharma by Shokei, 15th Century|
Of course, not having a clue rarely stops me these days. In fact, at age 68, it seems to be the best stance to take in any given moment. It certainly seems the most appropriate. The presumption that we really know what is going on is most often only just that, a presumption. Clung to, it can be patently presumptuous.
And that's being a bit generous. My first boss, Charlie Winchester, foreman of the maintenance department at a small factory in a small town north of Chicago had a decidedly less delicate way of making the point.
I started working at Clayton Mark and Company as a high school sophomore, dutifully eschewing summer days splashing in the local lake to save for the obligatory college education. As good fortune would have it, I ended up in the maintenance department where my tasks ranged from mowing the extensive grounds to learning how to fix things. Charlie was a kind and able mentor.
One particular lesson on the nature of reality began as Charlie came around the corner to find me standing in front of a simple machine gone amuck. Lurching erratically and making tortuous noises after my attempt at repair, it threatened mayhem. The afternoon's production quota now in question, I quickly explained what I had done and why. With the ever present cigar stub in his mouth, Charlie quickly shut the machine down, then took a pen from his shirt pocket pen holder and wrote the word "ASSUME" on a piece of paper.
"You know what happens when you assume?" he asked.