Friday, July 5, 2013

Authentic Sleeplessness

I slept fitfully last night.  It was, according to, the last day of our sweet little heat wave.  By the time I went to bed, about 9:30 P.M., it was still 80 degrees inside and outside.  I slept with all the windows wide open and both heavy duty fans running.  As the night progresses they slowly, gradually, pulled the temperature down. 

Of course, with it being the 4th of July, it was hardly a tranquil night outside, with a rather astounding and diverse array of fireworks rattling the neighborhood, ranging from tiny strings of lady fingers to some pretty massive explosives - large enough to rattle windows and set off car alarms.  They kept up the show until probably around 11:00 PM, when they fell silent.  In the distance you could hear the deep booms of the commercial grade fireworks at the variety of shows around the valley. Then, most likely due to the heat, I seemed to sleep in about two hour blocks through the night.  Two thought threads ran through my dreams and my waking moments during the night. 

First, I dreamed about work, but it wasn’t really work.  In the dream, I was trying to advance forward on some project and I was waiting on three photographs - the photographs had to be specific dimensions and compositions - and (this part actually relates to the real working world) - I could not adjust them myself, even through it would be a relatively simple thing.  Consequently, I was caught in a circle where I kept having to go back and request that it be done over and over.  Two of the photos were corrected relatively quickly, but the third one was very problematic and required many iterations of rework.

Second, I thought about and carried some of the weight of my friend Tony’s work troubles. Now, here is the simple truth - there is nothing I can do to influence the outcomes of his whole dramatic arc there at work.  All I can do is provide him with encouragement and support.  Which I cannot do in the middle of the night as I muddle through waves of fitful sleep.  But, aparently, it is pretty deeply engrained in my nature that I worry about things, including things I simple do not have the ability to influence.  Tony has been playing The Game of Thrones at work - and he stumbled - which means, well, as Cersei Lannister says “When you play the game of thrones, you win, or you die.”  He is not going to die of course, except perhaps metaphorically.  He is, at least in the initial stages, not going to win though.  I carry it in the middle of the night because he is my dear friend and I wish him all the best.

So, yesterday, as I was moving through the day - and then into the evening and night and early hours of the morning I was thinking about what in means to be authentic, in the Buddhist sense.  Of course, religously speaking, I am not a Buddhist, I am a Catholic, but I do find many things in Buddhism to be of value and the whole concept of being authentic is one of them.  The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa has this to say about it:

“So maybe the point is to confront ourselves with the question: am I really a good person, a good human being? Because that is what characterizes being an authentic Buddhist.”

To me, the whole concept of being an authentic anything hinges around first, being in the moment, and then second, being the things you value in that moment.  If you value compassion, then being compassionate is being authentic.  If you value generosity, then being generous is being authentic.  Every time you do not live you values, you take a step away from being authentic.  Everything you live your values, you take a step toward being authentic.  It is a pretty interesting concept, at least to me, and I am sure I will be thinking about it for a while at least.

No comments: