“9… 99… 999″
I would like to get every job I meet for. In point of fact, I would like to get everything I want, and I would like it handed to me on some kind of ceremonial serving dish, preferably delivered by beautiful people, all of whom tell me how great I am. This is not possible. Not during waking hours, anyway. But as I remind myself, the Buddha taught us that suffering exists, and my profession has more than its share. (He didn’t actually mention acting in the Four Noble Truths or the Eightfold Path, but please read on…)
I’ve said before that I believe in choice of focus. And I do. It’s not always easy, but we can decide what to think about, how to feel about it, and who to be. Uncontrolled thoughts will arise, of course, this is perfectly natural, but what we do with them is largely an exercise in free will. And like any other skill in life, it requires a learning curve, practice, failure and more practice. But we must never lose sight of the fact – yes, fact – that the possibility for change exists.
I told a friend that I’m getting better at my focus, laying my success rate at “9 out of 10 times” for making the positive choice. I went further and said that I’d like to get that up to “99 out of 100″ and then “999 out of 1,000.” Since that seemed pretty darn good, I left it there. But I took some delight that my instinct was to leave room for the one bad choice, or failure, or letdown, or whatever we want to call it. For without the one, the 9, 99 and 999 don’t exist. Without the one, there is nothing to learn from. Without the one, we have no touchstone. In a word, without the suffering, we have no shot at happiness. Does this mean that those who suffer will be happy? Not necessarily. There’s the small matter of mindfulness in between, that is, the recognition of having the choice. Eureka! Awareness is all! I must share this revelation with everybody!
There’s a particular satisfaction in arriving at the same conclusions much wiser people came to 2,500 years ago. You feel at once enlightened – “Hey, I got there, too!” – and a bit of a lovable dunce.
Emphasis on the lovable.
For the Mineralava Musings, this is Edoardo Ballerini.