Monday, July 09, 2012

The Three Habits of Highly Ineffective People

Maybe you need seven to be effective, but three should get the job done otherwise.


I’m still stewing about money versus meaning, and was thinking about going around and conducting some informational interviews on the topic of finding satisfying work, or would that be yet another way to attenuate what is becoming a painful process—a means of avoiding informational interviews that might actually lead to employment?

Saturday a week ago I spent reading Blue Monday, a highly satisfying thriller by Nicci French (the pseudonym of a wife and husband writing team). I will definitely read more of their books. C. and I had dinner at We Be Sushi.

On Monday I went to the dentist to have a crown reaffixed to its stump (or does “pedestal” sound better?), and in the evening, C. and I went down to Glide church for the little meditation group there and I got to meet Jana Drakka, who is very engaging and likeable. When C. and I were walking through the Tenderloin back to BART afterward, we passed a guy who said of us, “Aw, that’s so cute. Keep it going, keep it going.”

On the Fourth of July, C. and I walked over to Dolores Park and briefly joined the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s audience, making our way from there to Golden Gate Park for a lovely stroll (where, if I may mention it, a man stopped us to say how “beautiful” we look together and that it should be our job to go around teaching people how to be happy—that was flattering, but I should also say there may have been a faint whiff of spirits coming from this person). We managed to arrive at the Conservatory of Flowers at 4 p.m., just in time for closing. Next was Zona Rosa on Haight St. for burritos, and then back to the Mission to step onto the roof of my building for fireworks. The city’s display was lower in the sky than usual this year, so they were kind of hard to see.

On Thursday Tom came to town to feed Darwin, a task Terry R., who loves animals (e.g., rats), had balked at, so Tom and I got to have lunch at Papalote. (Tom has been in Sacramento for a number of weeks, helping Ann out.)

On Friday, I took an actual weekday off, figuring I might as well. For months now, I’ve been “looking for work,” and have felt I should keep at that five days a week, despite failing to accomplish much of anything. However, people with jobs now and then have a day off, so I decided it would be all right to follow suit. I took my usual walk out Dolores St. to Randall, but then instead of coming home, I went to Borderlands Café with a book, ordered a pot of rooibos tea, and sank into a comfy chair in the back room.

There is a second upholstered chair in the little room, plus a couch. A guy came along and sat in the other chair and pulled something out of his bag: a knitting project! I found that enchanting. It was extraordinarily tranquil and delightful, just sitting there reading with others quietly occupied nearby, the tea so beautifully, deeply orange in its white cup.

Esperpento with C. that evening for tapas was, in contrast, somewhat like hell on earth—so incredibly loud, though the food was tasty and not as expensive as I’d assumed it would be. Small plates = bring a big bag of money.

On Saturday I went in a City CarShare car to visit Carol Joy in Novato. I recently acquired an iPod Nano and an AUX cable for the sole purpose of being able to hear mp3s in a CarShare car. Apparently these days you can plug an AUX cable into just about any car other than a Prius, strange if true. I tried it with a Scion and it worked beautifully. Carol Joy and I ate at Toast and saw Magic Mike, which was good. Then we sat on a breezy, shaded veranda and played cards for awhile—so nice on that extremely hot afternoon!—and had dinner at La Piñata, which evidently is a small, family-owned Bay Area chain of restaurants. We both thought our burritos were uncommonly tasty.

Ponderings yesterday while cooking: Happiness doesn’t come from getting what I want, and most certainly not from compelling others to act as I prefer. It comes from non-greed (generosity) and non-hatred (kindness). The highest happiness is peace, which can potentially be had by practicing non-harming behavior, including generosity, kindness and equanimity, and by bringing the mind back to observable reality over and over. Happiness comes from being steadily present with whatever is occurring, in a relaxed and accepting way.

I’ve evolved a two-tiered system, which starts with accepting the actual thing, if possible: It’s all right that that person is doing thus and such. Yes to that. But if I can’t accept that, then I try to accept the related feelings: Yes to feeling upset, plus every now and then there will also be an opportunity to accept still more bad feelings that arose as a consequence of acting intemperately in reaction to the first bad feelings.

It seems to me that I lately bumped into the idea that God needs us to fully enjoy His creation. I don’t believe in God (but here capitalize the name out of consideration for those who do). C. says he takes “God” as an acronym for “Great Outdoors.” In Twelve Step programs, it’s said to stand for “Good Orderly Direction.” Certainly things seem to unfold in a lawful fashion, but more than that, things seem to be inherently weighted toward the good—if you sit long enough, while you might feel lousy in the short term, eventually you’ll be permeated with joy. Why is that? I don’t know (well, I suppose because God is great, and also good, and we also thank him for our food, the one prayer my parents taught me when I was a child), but I think it would be perfectly reasonable to call the way things unfold lawfully plus that general benevolent force “God.” One doesn’t want to go around having to say “general benevolent force” all the time.

I was thinking today about that idea of God needing us—about how pure consciousness, which I believe is what we ultimately are, is vastly spacious and peaceful and joyful, but not in possession of eyes or ears or skin. Without us, it can’t know what a cat looks like curled up for a nap, what a burrito tastes like, what annoyance feels like. It’s our part in creation—a way we can express our gratitude for the gift of a human life—to do our best to fully experience our lives, whether this moment is agreeable or otherwise. I find this idea moving. This is our job, and we’re the only ones who can do it. When I sit here and feel scared that things might not go my way, that I might lose this or that thing that seems essential, it is my sacred duty to do that as wholeheartedly as I can.
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