A hundred grass tips

“All feelings are positive”, says Jenny Lim, yet so often, by the time I even consider inquiry, fears and discomforts have whirled by feverishly, leaving a mess to attend to in their wake. The window in which to sort through what was felt in any systematic way has already closed, rendering such guidance quaint.

I did okay with it today.

I left work deflated, having been busy from start to finish, wrapping up a series of designs in what I felt was the most efficient way–only to be (albeit lightly) scolded just before leaving, for taking too long. It had suddenly gotten busy just as I’d gone off floor to wrap details. Still, I knew I’d balanced my time well, and that the other person was operating from a blind spot. If anything, they’d spent twice the time with their clients I had with mine, after having come in hours later.

Mind you, I have a lot of respect for this other designer, and know the nature of things when there aren’t enough people to manage a rush. Everyone is handling more than they can, so it’s hard not to think the next guy isn’t doing their part. I’ve definitely fallen into that pattern myself. Still, rather than feeling put upon, it would have been better to ask more detail about what I was working on. I’m fairly confident they would have comprehended the deadline more clearly, but even If not, I wouldn’t have felt quite so shot down in a flash at the end of an exhausting day.

Granted, there was a time I would have cried, and I didn’t, though I am tearing up a little while writing here. That’s progress. And maybe therapy is finally clicking, because a few hours after arriving home, after tea, I was calm enough to ask a few probing questions.

What emotion were you actually feeling?
Looked over.
Unsure whether it is worth trying to be heard. Why even try?
Sadness (I tried my best and still didn’t meet expectations)
Pride. **Don’t you know who I am?

This last one is funny, I guess. It’s the gist I boiled down from a longer rant about being taken for someone only capable of, or not even capable of, such a job. I realized how much I wish to be seen in a totality rather than as a body performing tasks. When I feel reduced in such a moment, especially by someone I’ve worked with a while, I’m especially sensitive and prone to catastrophizing.

If everything isn’t perfect, I jump to, “Oh no, I have to leave!”

Why is the discomfort so strong (disproportionate)?
I fear this isn’t the right place for me.
Simultaneously, I fear that this IS the right place for me, and I’ll leave prematurely just before things get better. It’s always so close to ‘getting it (life) right’.

There’s more, but you get the idea.

Hidden in the bundle also arose spiritual perfectionism. Looking at the attachment I feel to my role, not just as a ‘good designer’, I see myself taking being an excellent worker and colleague to be a fractal of mattering to/in the world on the whole. I get through my day by seeing what I’m doing as more than what it seems to be a lot of the time.

photostock image

Perhaps I’m not holding my roles very lightly.

“For Hongzhi the whole purpose of practice is to “graciously share

yourself with the hundred grass tips [i.e., myriad beings] in the
busy marketplace.””

-from “Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi” by Taigen Dan Leighton, Yi Wu

“Looking back, I guess I used to play-act all the time. For one thing,

it meant I could live in a more interesting world than the one around me.”

― Marilyn Monroe


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