So you guys--and by you guys I mean my critics--I welcome your remarks as long as it's dialog and not invective, but I do think it might be nice if you took the trouble to get your facts straight. Attack my ideas, but saying my ideas are worthless because I have "a housekeeper"--when, in fact, I have nothing of the kind--really just distracts everybody from the topic of conversation which I think should be about how we can help the planet (rather than pointing fingers at me or anyone else).
What I do have is a cleaner who comes in four hours a week. Also, Isabella goes to family day care with four other kids, which by the way she loves (we neither wanted nor could afford a nanny). I pay the cleaner roughly the same hourly wage that I earn and, by my estimates, our lovely childcare provider earns a bit more than me. Michelle and I have this help because we both work full time--who decided I was a stay-at-home-dad?--both for financial reasons and because we love our work.
So attack me for having a baby sitter and a once a week cleaner if you want. But honestly, I think what would be a much bigger help to us all is if you contribute your positive ideas and changes you have made so that we can dialog and move forward and talk and figure out solutions. If you think what I am trying wouldn't work for you, how about, instead of denigrating my efforts, you tell us about your own efforts and what works for you? Maybe that could benefit someone else too.
All of which brings me to the main subject of the post: a Zen koan that I love. As the story goes, long ago in China, a stray cat wandered into Zen Master Nam Cheon’s monastery. Sometimes, the cat would cuddle up in the laps of the monks who lived in the east residence and sometimes in the laps of the monks who lived in the west. The monks from the east and west halls became jealous of each other.
“We love the cat more than you so it should live with us.”
“No, we know how to take care of the cat better. It should stay with us!”
One day, the argument broke out in the middle of the dharma room, where the monks were supposed to be meditating. Finally, Zen Master Nam Cheon stormed into the room. He picked up the cat, held a knife to its throat and said, “You monks. Give me one true word of love for this cat, and I’ll save it. If you cannot, I will kill it.”
Nam Cheon was testing the monks. What was more important to them, truly loving the cat or winning the argument? None of the monks could say or do anything. They were all still trying figure out how to prove the other side was wrong. So Nam Cheon sliced open the cat’s neck and killed it.
The No Impact experiment is about not being like those monks in the dharma room—I’m trying. I don’t want to be the type who never exerts much energy towards anything but winning the argument anymore. I feel like Nam Cheon is holding his knife to the neck of the planet, and I need to work on proving I love it, instead of trying to win the arguments about it.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.