One Thing & Another

Notes From My Journal: Giving Harassment a Pass

Number One Son told me that his company (he’s in the movie biz) brought in a lawyer/expert in workplace conduct to lecture on “correct” business/social protocol post #MeToo. The expert said that anyone considered “special” – which apparently includes women, racial and ethnic minorities (sorry, white men), the physically and/or mentally disabled (including drunks and drug addicts) – have special protection under the law.

What does that mean? According to the expert: You cannot make them feel uncomfortable.I repeat: You cannot make them feel uncomfortable.If you do, it’s harassment. Which raises the question: How is one expected to read the minds (or hearts) of one’s fellow workers?

There is no answer for that. But if the victim is not special, you can say pretty much whatever you want to him with impunity. Bullying, the expert said, is not harassment, so long as it is not targeting a special group. In other words, so long as one’s victim is a white male.


Today’s Word: restive (adjective)

Restive (RES-tiv) means impatient, nervous or fidgety. As used by E.M. Forster in A Room With a View: “Such music is not for the piano, and her audience began to get restive.”


Fun Fact

Blueberry Jelly Bellies were created especially for Ronald Reagan.



From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket

The Zen Concept of Satori– What It Really Means to Be “in the Moment”* 

The German philosopher Eugen Herrigel spent time in Japan studying kyudo (archery) under Awa Kenzo. Kenzo, a kyudoand Zen master, called his teaching approach Daishadokyo. Unlike the learning systems that were popular in the West at the time, it was internal and spiritual.

In Zen in the Art of Archery, Herrigel explains how Daishadokyoworks. The idea is that, after years of practice, the kyudomaster no longer consciously controls his movements. The skill of archery becomes effortless. It is this intuitive level of  awareness toward which the student aspires.

Zen Buddhists call it satori– a state of enlightenment that is achieved when the practitioner is fully “located” in the present moment. They describe the experience as a harmonious flowing together of the mind, body, and emotions.

To get to this level of awareness, the kyudostudent must rid himself of the conscious awareness of “self.” In other words, he must rid himself of the conscious awareness of the movement of his arms and shoulders, the conscious contemplation of the target – everything that the beginning student cannot help but focus on.

The student renounces the desire to hit the target but he does not renounce the intention of hitting it. He finds, through repeated practice, that he can accomplish his goal more quickly and more efficiently by not desiring it.

In Zen Tennis: Eastern Wisdom for Western Sport, Paul Mutimer writes, “It’s important to remember that satoriexperiences don’t have to be linked to great achievement. Often, they can occur at very simple natural moments. I would consider that I experienced some very special moments hitting tennis balls early on spring mornings. The air was crisp and invigorating, my body relaxed and alert and I felt a great sense of well-being.”

This particular aspect of Zen teaching works so well because the concepts at play – desire and intention, to name two – are easy to understand. They are instantly and unambiguously comprehended. That is the measure we must demand in our pursuit of a uniform theory of life. The idea of Yin and Yang does not meet that requirement. But the idea of expansion and contraction does.

* In this series of essays, which hopes to become a book, I’m exploring an idea I’ve been thinking about for a long time — that our knowledge of the universe and our experience of living can be understood by the metaphor of pulsation – of contraction and relaxation – and that such an understanding might be helpful in succeeding in life and accepting death.


Read This and You Won’t Have to Read the Book

Sometimes – as in this case – I start reading a book and realize that, for whatever reason, it doesn’t merit a lot of my time. So I scan through it, identify the gist, and record that in a few short sentences.

 Here it is…

Bringing Up Bébé

By Pamela Druckerman

2014, 432 pages

The author moves to France, with family, and is surprised to find that the local restaurants rarely feature “kid” meals. Children are expected to eat adult food (e.g., cabbage and dill sauce). This leads to the startling (to her) discovery that contemporary American culture may be harmful – in body and in mind – to our youth.