Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Buddha's Cube Farm Warriors

Playing in the background: Audio Visions on DirecTV
Meters swum today: None. I took the weekend off. I was tired.

Before I start this post, I ended up with a cool 21 1/2 miles for the month of July. That's pretty darned good considering I missed most of the first week when I, uh, got married.

Okay, back to CNN and Christiane Amanpour. I watched her "Buddha's warriors" special (I still think that title is kind of antithetical) last night and it was pretty interesting. It wasn't really about Buddhist beliefs, though they came up, but more about the Buddhist monks who are, or were, leading protests in Myanmar and Tibet. She interviewed the Dalai Lama, who has pretty much stated that Tibet needs to be a self-governing republic within the Chinese empire versus a flat-out independent nation (probably because the second thing is impossible without bloodshed, and the first thing might actually happen, if not any time soon). Then she interviewed some guys who disagree with the Dalai Lama and are pushing for flat-out independence, as well as violence, if need be. (Couple hundred unarmed monks versus the entire Chinese army--pardon me if I don't watch, okay?)

Christiane interviewed monks in Thailand who fled Burma after the failed pro-democracy protests last summer. They're scared. For guys who believe very deeply that no assembled matter (such as a human body) is permanent, they're still scared. I don't think they're afraid of getting killed so much as they're afraid of being arrested, tortured, and killed, and all their friends having to mourn them, and all for naught because nothing will have changed. What's more, they were all so young. The oldest one was maybe 30. And they had on sneakers. This gave me a chuckle. Somehow I was under the impression that monks always wore sandals, and here's this one in Nikes. Well, I guess if you gotta do a lot of walking (some of them walked 900 miles from Dharmsala to the Tibetan border before being turned back by the Indian police) it makes more sense to wear Nikes.

Anyway, it was pretty interesting and I'm not sure how I feel about the whole deal. I think these guys are doing The Right Thing by their people, but if I were one of them I'd question how much good it's doing. The Chinese government has thrown foreign journalists out of Tibet, the military junta is still in charge of Myanmar, food and fuel prices are still twice as high as they were a year ago, children are still starving, 70,000 odd are dead, homeless or some combination after the big cyclone, and well, anyway, things kind of still generally suck. Which, I guess, means I haven't let go of the whole Process vs. Results thing. Or as they say in OA, "I'm in charge of the planning committee, not the results committee." Besides, one thing is different now. The whole world is watching. The whole world is watching. The whole world is watching.

The program was followed by Larry King Live, where he interviewed a bunch of folks that are working on various aspects of the human brain's role in health, development, and particle physics (well, that last thing came in at the very end). Seems that a lot of human emotional response actually has nothing to do with the situation at hand but is instead about some other situation that resembles this one from years in the past, to which one reacts with the same emotional power one felt then, even if the circumstances are vastly different. One of the docs thought that people could become addicted to their own emotions, which I for one agree with. Years ago I broke up with a boyfriend (yes, an actual male) and for weeks afterward I was this walking talking bundle of nerves. A shrink pointed out to me later that I'd been pouring so much energy into this extremely sick person that having broken it off with him, my brain was looking for a new source of anxiety. It was so used to being anxious all the time that it couldn't cope with the lack of same. Which dovetails nicely with the book Joan got me at the library, "What Makes You Not A Buddhist," that explains, among other things, how being attached to your emotions is a fine way to cause yourself endless anxiety.

Before any of this stuff came on TV, ie, on Friday, I had a dustup at work with one of my seven dwarves. He had a fit because I did something he told me to do. Well, he claims now he really didn't tell me to do it (as he said to Dwarf No. 2), or maybe that he told me to do it but he didn't think I really would (as he said to the manager), or something like that. He didn't talk to me himself about this. He went to one of the other dwarves (Dwarf No. 2) and that dwarf came into my office and says, "I almost fired you this morning because of that stunt you pulled yesterday." To which I said, "Uh, what?" or something equally intelligent. Dwarf No. 2 related what I'd allegedly done that was so horrible, I said, "Uh, he told me to do that." "Well, he says he didn't." "I'll talk to him," I said, "but we had this discussion, and he said X, and I said Y, and he said, 'Okay, go ahead and present both of those options,' which is exactly what I did." (Having a photographic memory rocks once in a while.) Dwarf #2 said he was not going to get in the middle of this, but first of all, I was not to ever again do Z without express instructions (which I had, see above re photographic memory) and second, I had better go talk to Dwarf No. 1 and straighten this out.

So, I plodded down to Dwarf No. 1's office who reiterated most of what Dwarf No. 2 said, and when I said, "Okay, you said X, and I said Y," he basically said, "Well, that's not what I meant." Are things straightened out? I have no idea. I spent much of the rest of the day in a state of mild bewilderment. I mean, it's hard to explain this without telling y'all what actually was said, which I can't for confidentiality and all that, but what I took away from this was, just because somebody tells you to do Z, doesn't mean they really want you to do Z. You sort of have to guess if they mean it or not. I dunno about you, but this, to me, is a recipe for insanity.

Anyway, what's odd about that whole occurrence is that I don't think I was ever really worried about getting fired. I'm old and cynical and all that but I've pretty much figured out that they can fire you if they don't like your face, your head, your hair, your nose piercing, your high-pitched laugh, or even for no reason at all. And have. And do. Don't get me wrong, getting fired sucks, but I've been laid off and fired and variations on a theme so many times it's almost old hat anymore. It's the economy, it's politics, it's this, it's that, It's never been the end of the world and it wouldn't be now. But, I've been chewing on this all weekend anyway, and yeah, there's a lot of anxiety attached. So the shows about attachments to emotions and Buddhist monks and the book about what makes you not a Buddhist couldn't have been more timely.

The thing is, I haven't been able to put a label on where this anxiety comes from. It's not about getting fired. I think it has more to do with the admittedly bizarre set of instructions I got in the situation described above. I've been over the whole thing in my head many times and I honestly can't tell you where I could have done anything different. Or where the clue would have been that just because I was told to do Z doesn't really mean I should go do Z. Which, according to the slew of commentators on Larry King Live, was probably about something that happened before I was 20, to which I reacted in a certain emotional way that's now coming back up a second time and being applied to a situation that really isn't analogous. Which is, I guess, why it doesn't make any sense.

Confused? Me, too. Maybe that's why one of Mr. King's commentators had so much Botox that she couldn't make any facial expressions.

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