Friday afternoon I arrived at the hotel I work at with the knowledge that the first storm of this winter was bearing down on Nova Scotia. It was predicted to be fairly disruptive storm, so I anticipated having to stay at the hotel in the morning when my shift ended. A string of events followed during my night that included a huge influx of reservations due to flights being cancelled at the nearby airport (I was working as the sole employee at the hotel for a portion of this and barely able to keep up with the calls), a resulting influx of guest arrivals, a rushed and challenging audit process, my co-worker’s discovery of underage skinnydippers in the closed pool (who fled out a door into the snow without their clothes) and one final major disruption.
By 5 am the power went out for most of the city and the hotel was left in the dark. The electricity loss was definitely a fitting end to a night of unanticipated circumstances and non-stop activity. We had to give wakeup calls in person by knocking on doors and do what we could to accomodate inconvenienced guests but overall it went smoothly considering it was the first power outage our hotel has had to deal with. I think I managed to handle it with the equanimity demanded of my managerial role.
By 7:30 I’d made my way to the guest room where I would be sleeping for the day. I settled in and decided to take some photos of the snowy view and of myself as I turned precisely 23. It was a bit strange to sit in the unlit hotel room and watch as the sky lightened into day, almost eerie in a way.
I awoke at four to a phone call telling me I’d need to get out of the room quickly so that it could be cleaned in time for arriving guests because we expected to have a sold out night. I cleaned up and walked done the stairs.
In the hallway I was surprised to run into my father, who told me that he, my mother and sister were there to take me out to dinner. I hadn’t expected them to brave the harsh roads into the city, but I was happy to be able to leave the hotel for a couple hours before my second 14 hour shift began. We decided to go to a nearby Chinese buffet, where we all gorged and Ilea and I tried bubble tea (boba) for the first time. I had lychee flavouring in mine, which was actually the first time I’d tasted that fruit (I’ve read that “one lychee = three torches of fire” is a popular saying because of the yang property of the lychee). I’m absolutely in love with the drink and will definitely have it again the next time I have the chance.
Before leaving, my parents left me with my birthday present and a huge black bag that I’m told holds only black items, as per my preference for all things black. I had to store it in the office because the gifts they also brought from my aunt Lucy and uncle Larry filled my locker. I hurriedly got dressed and stepped into my working role. That last night went by more smoothly, with little to mention, other than one rather assholic guest encounter I’ll mention later.
I left in the morning wearing a funky blue, black, purple and grey hat that Ilea knitted for me for my birthday and carrying the huge black bag and another bag with my birthday presents from my parents in it. It made for an interesting trek to the bus stop and back home once the bus dropped me off because it was so very bulky. It was especially troublesome because I had to walk along the road because most sidewalks had not yet been cleared.
I was happy to find, in the birthday package, that I’d received an orange yoga mat and a number of other items from my parents. I’m looking forward to using the mat as I take up a dedicated yoga practice in the new year and expand in my goal of soon being engaged in an Integral Transformative Practice.
You can think of this as a modular type of setup. Think of, say, six columns. These columns represent the physical, the emotional-sexual (prana or chi), the mental or psychological, the contemplative or meditative, the community, and nature. Each column has the many practices that have proven beneficial for that dimension. For example, column one-the physical-might have things like aerobic exercise, weight lifting, healthy diet, swimming, and so on. Column two-prana or chi-might have hatha yoga, qi gong, tai chi chuan, etc. Column three-psychological-might have things like visualization, affirmations, and various types of psychotherapy. Column four-the contemplativ-have zazen, vipassana, self-inquiry, centering prayer, etc. Column five-community-might have various types of community service, hospice, helping the homeless, or any sort of relational, compassionate care and engagement with others. And column six-nature-might have recycling, nature hikes and nature celebration, and so on. The idea of ITP is simple: pick at least one practice from each column and practice them concurrently. The more dimensions you practice, the more effective they all become, the more you become one big accident-prone soul.
– Ken Wilber, “Integral Transformative Practice“
Note that “accidents” here means, as I understand it, are those moments in which we are clearly manifesting our divine or enlightened selves. I think it’s a noble goal to work on our evolution, and I’m very excited by the effectiveness ITP offers us as we work to become more transparently divine. I’m even tempted to get my father Golf in the Kingdom to try to help my parents understand the exciting adventure I’ve begun (Sadly, Boomeritis was just too strange and focused on destroying post-modernism for his taste). I’m thinking Grace and Grit might be the answer for my mother. It’s important to find skillful means for conveying the vital gift of Integral, I believe, and I’m hoping I can cultivate that.
I must say that I’m really appreciating Matthew Sweet’s two newest albums (Living Things and Kimi Ga Saki * Raifu). I think part of it is his discovery of Zen Buddhist practices and the flavouring the new outlook has given his songs. I’m listening to “Through Your Eyes” at the moment (I chose my title from its lyrics) and am struck by how well it is describing our struggle with Samsara. Along with folks like Stuart Davis, he has elevated the pop song to new levels of scope and for that we should be thankful.
On the topic of Zen, I’ll leave you with my story of one unpleasant guest encounter. A middle-aged, balding, scowling man came to the front desk and complained that his key card was no longer working. I expressed my regret over this and proceded to make him new cards. Out of the blue, he asked, condescendingly, “Do you know what Zen means?”
“Yes, I believe that is a Buddhist practice,” I replied, finding his tone annoying but not allowing that to come into my voice.
Arrogantly, he shot back, “No, it’s a Japanese Buddist belief and the word means to think nothing and do nothing.” He then turned over one of the cards and said, “See here, it says Zen on the back of the card, and it’s right, these cards do nothing!” On the back of our room cards we have an advertisement for Zen Chinese Cuisine, a nearby restaurant. I handed him new cards and wished him luck verbally and comeuppance silently.