I first posted this story on 2/28/07 – Today, I did some editing and am saying it again today, because it seems fitting.
In one of my notebooks, I found the lesson â€” â€œBe willing to take what you getâ€.
Have you ever asked a question you thought you knew the answer to, but asked anyway for confirmation or to get a different point of view. And then, to your surprise the answer was new and much more interesting than you imagined.
I ask a lot of questions and Iâ€™m constantly asking Ken stuff. He seems to know more about the workings of the world than the average guy, and for the most part he’s a straight shooter. I trust and accept his answers because he does research that Iâ€™m not interested in doing, and he knows more than I do on certain topics. Very often I laugh with disbelief when he gives me an answer that surprises me or just sounds silly. There are times I expect a simple answer and instead I get a story, a history lesson, or a comment that is totally off the wall. â€” â€œBe willing to take what you getâ€.
I ask Ken about words, common phrases and their definitions. Iâ€™m curious about every day slogans like, â€œBy and large,” â€œthe whole nine yardsâ€ or â€œthree dog nightâ€. Sometimes, he tells me and sometimes we make up answers just for laughs.
Usually Ken will tell me if a word has military or nautical roots. For example theÂ phrase â€œclean slateâ€. Clean slate is a nautical term, much like â€œunder the weather,” or â€œabove board,” even â€œrummage sale.â€ In the case of clean slate, the sailor on watch was to record relevant information about the journey on a slate that was later wiped clean.
I like that idea.
Take notes, write your experience, become aware that we own too many pairs of shoes, or that our shoulders are full of tension, we come to see that we are full of fear or BS â€” and after taking stock in what we have, we are then able to let it all go. We can wipe the slate clean. We can start again fresh.
Iâ€™m always sorting through stuff. Stuff in my basement, stuff in my heart, stuff in my practice. I want clarity so I can move past what I have. I like a clean slate, but to get it I realized that first I need toÂ â€œBe willing to take what you getâ€ â€” to record what is real in my thoughts, feelings and actions. Only then can I clear space for new information and begin again.Â I have to acknowledge what I have, so I can let it all go.
Master Wen-Mei Yu use to say, â€œOne dayâ€™s work, is one dayâ€™s progress.â€ Every day, Iâ€™d like a clean slate to work with. And, so I record what is relevant in my heart, my mind, and closet; and only when I know what I have can I become willing to let it go.
In the seeing what is and in the letting go, is the freedom to begin again. For me, the world is always changing, and therefore deserves to be seen fresh every day.