Wednesday afternoon I found myself in a customer’s Audi driving to lunch. His customer in turn was also in the car (my role being “vendor”). The 15 minutes spent in the car was spent listening to the driver’s pro-Trump diatribe on the impeachment investigation and his firm belief that anything he said would result in strong nods of agreement from the two passengers in his car. He didn’t notice that neither of us said anything. I don’t know the political views of the end user, but I do know mine. More importantly, neither of them know my political views. I happen to have strong views on this topic, but those views had no place in a business meeting. Aside from lack of professionalism, it’s unnecessary noise that distracts from purpose. Me jumping in on this topic would have created more rather than relieved tension.
“Learn to stop trying to fix things, to stop being so preoccupied with trying to control one’s experience of the world, to give up trying to replace unpleasant thoughts and emotions with more pleasant ones, and to see that, through dropping the ‘pursuit of happiness’ a more profound peace will result.” – Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking
I’m not seeking “happiness” (that’s akin to playing Whac-A-Mole) but I do have a fair amount of restlessness I work through. So it’s interesting if only to me when two books arrive at the top of my stack of real and virtual books at the same time. Burkeman’s and Ryan Holiday’s latest, Stillness is the Key. Both tackle similar ground – with focus on the value of Stoicism in particular, but common themes in Buddhism and (in Holiday’s book), other world religions and philosophies.
Burkeman throws out a nugget in his book that struck me as profound: “Let the Clamour be.” In American English we’d spell that ‘clamor’. But no matter, the point is made. I’ve worked on that for years, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so. What I don’t do is actively meditate. I take my meditation in turning off the noise and doing yardwork, or gardening, washing dishes or simply taking a quiet walk. Am I missing out on something significant by not meditating? Probably, but I feel better about myself for getting something done while I’m in my mind.
Which brings me to the acorns. I’ve got 10’s of thousands of them sitting on my front lawn right now, just waiting for me to rake them up. Just me, a rake, shovel and barrel, and endless acorns. I can feel the stillness already.