Some years ago I managed a travel agency in Santa Fe, NM. Those who have worked with the traveling public can tell you it isn’t always easy. Just ask any airline employee about his or her experiences and be ready for an earful. (Remember that flight attendant recently who couldn’t take it any longer, popped a beer and activated the escape slide?)
Travel is stressful for many people—and it often involves significant amounts of money. Put that all together and it can lead to some pretty bad attitudes when things don’t go exactly right. And it’s the nature of the travel business that things often don’t go exactly right…
Anyway, our largest client was the local Buddhist Stupa. (In the spirit of full disclosure, the Santa Fe Stupa was founded by Tibetan Buddhists; they were not, technically, of the Zen school that we’ve been discussing, but still…)
The members there traveled quite a lot—and their travels were often quite complicated, involving complex, extended itineraries to Asia. And yet they were some of my favorite clients. Why? Because when I had to call with the bad news that an unexpected flight cancellation had just resulted in something like a 36-plus hour layover in Timbuktu (literally, in some cases), they took it so well. Sometimes they would start to get worked up—reverting to old behavior patterns, perhaps—but then, even over the phone, you could almost see them pause, regroup and respond calmly. “Ah…okay…it’s a test.” (“This is only a test…”)
Every setback or difficulty provided an opportunity to practice their philosophy and their religion. Needless to say, the Buddhists stood out in sharp contrast to our second largest client—the attorneys at a major law firm (“What do you mean I have to wait two hours between planes! Do you know what my billable rate is? This is unacceptable. DO something about it!”)
Very different life philosophies, obviously.
Although not a Buddhist (in fact, he worked from a Christian perspective and was the author of the Chronicles of Narnia) C.S. Lewis wrote, “If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.” (God in the Dock, page 52)
How do you see the world? And how do you think your view of it affects your experiences?
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