Put Down The Hammer

photo-3[continued from BE WE]

The woman behind the counter at Starbucks, someone I’d never seen before, leaned forward, and chirped, “David! I loved your wedding!” She laughed at the look of confusion that must have crossed my face and added, “No, you don’t know me.” One of our invited guests brought her as a date. “Best wedding ever!” she exclaimed as Kerri joined us. Because the day is a blur, Kerri and I enjoy hearing people’s accounts of our wedding day and she enthusiastically told us of her experiences. It was nice. It was personal.

We took our coffee to a table and joined some friends. After a few moments, the woman behind the counter came to our table. She brought some samples, some health supplements and cosmetic products, “I only do this Starbucks job for the health insurance,” she said, “This is really my business,” she said, sliding the tiny packages in front of Kerri. “You never know who might be interested,” she chirped and blushed before making an exit. It was awkward. It felt awful. We went from personal to prospect in one inelegant step.

There is an old saying that came to mind: When the only tool you have in your box is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Many years ago, in a time of great financial desperation, I worked with some financial folks who recruited me to sell their stuff. I learned their processes, got my licenses in record time, and for a few horrid months, tried to sell their wares. I hated it. The work was highly profitable but the cost was highly destructive. Everyone looked like a prospect. To every social encounter, every friendship, every casual meeting, I brought an agenda. For a few months I looked through a lens that made every person, every circumstance, a commodity-opportunity. It reduced life (my life) to an ugly basic. It was toxic. Anna taught me the very appropriate word for what I felt: vampiring. It was a great lesson. It made me pay attention to the intention I bring to my life.

It’s what the woman at Starbucks felt, too. She was desperate. She, like a former version of me, sold the greater need to satisfy the lesser. Vampires are insatiable and stuck in an untenable lifeless-lens: everyone looks like a food source. Desperation is like that. It is easy when desperate to sacrifice friendships for prospecting. No one likes to be a food source.

As I perused this years bountiful crop of ugly images of Americans fighting and crushing each other for cheap toys and electronics, the annual product-stampede/people-crush-and-fist-fight on Black Friday (formerly known as Thanksgiving), I couldn’t help but think about the Starbucks lady. Desperation wears many masks but always makes others look less-than-human. Communities thrive when they feed each other and die when they feed on each other. This is not a mystery.

Commodity is supposed to service community, not the other way around. Vampiring is the only visible path when community loses itself to commodity; it inadvertently tosses away its many tools and leaves itself with only a hammer. It’s a question of order as much as a question of values. There is nothing wrong with commodity when the order of value is respected. Without a WE there can only be a very confused, desperate, and lonely I. It should not come as a surprise that desperate and lonely people do desperate and lonely things.

This is the season of the return of the light. We need do nothing more to create the miracle than put down the hammer and look at others as if they are more than nails.

[to be continued]

Run With Bodhi

721. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Bodhi the dog and I have bonded. He is my dog even though he isn’t. We talk shop. We swap stories. I tell him about my days and he listens as long as I keep petting him. Once, my hand stopped moving – so engrossed was I in my story that Bodhi popped my hand with his snout to remind me of my true purpose. Bodhi is not subtle where attention is concerned. Bodhi knows what is important and usually my stories of daily woe are not relevant in the face of “love me now.”

Before the snows came I took Bodhi for a walk and for reasons still unclear to me I decided he needed to run. So we ran. I was wearing my clogs, which are not the best shoes for running, and I can report without shame that Bodhi literally ran me out of my shoes. He was confused when I stopped. I was confused when I stopped; one moment I was shod and the next I was sprinting in my socks (I used the word “sprint” to try and impress you but the truth is that I was limping and wheezing by the time I lost my shoes. As a former distance runner I have grand notions about my capacity to run distance but I was smacked after three blocks. It is probably technically correct to admit that Bodhi didn’t run me out of my shoes, rather I staggered out of them).

The word “bodhi” means enlightenment or awakening; bodhi is knowledge of the nature of all things. When I am with Bodhi the dog I am with one who possesses bodhi. He never invests in my dramas or commiserates with my woes. Things that happened a moment or an hour or a day ago do not really concern him. Bodhi is concerned with this moment, this opportunity for loving. Tomorrow does not concern him at all. In fact, I’d be surprised if Bodhi carries the concept of future anywhere in his consciousness. Bodhi’s concern is with right now, this moment, and he has the uncanny gift of bringing me out of my future/past investments. He simply pops me with his snout and I am reminded that what really matters is right in front of me all of the time.