This will be my last post for a couple of weeks, so I feel like it should be a good one, leaving all of us with something important to think about. But my brain is in its usual pre-travel state, anxious and indecisive, and my body is sending lots of little frantic messages, trying to get me to stay home and not risk the unknown.
This morning, in Kornfield's The Wise Heart, I read that Buddhist psychology claims there are three basic temperaments: grasping, aversion, and delusion. After reading the descriptions, I suspect I fall into the grasping category: it has more to do with wanting beautiful things around you, and clinging to things, and less to do with rejecting and judging (aversion) or waffling and confusion (delusion).
Which means that packing for a trip can be challenging, as I worry that I won't have what I need when I need it. It's hard to reject things, to choose NOT to take them. And where the rubber hits the road this morning is, of course, on the question of cameras. Do I take the high-end one? It's heavy, and bulky, and will always have to be hanging off my shoulder as it won't fit in a purse or pocket. Nothing says "tourist" like a big camera! But it shoots great pictures, in rapid fire.
Originally I had thought to take both that one and the smaller one, which is a slower camera but fits in a purse and gives great color. But the brochure for the tour says never to leave a camera in your hotel room, and I am reluctant to carry both of them with me everywhere I go: I'm already concerned about the physical toll this trip will take on my still-recovering-from-surgery body. So this morning I took my grasping self by the hand and told it "you can't have everything. Go (as the old Bonnie Raitt song, "Let me be your blender, baby" says) for the one that's "built for comfort, not for speed!" This is, of course, a familiar choice for me...
It's not that any of these temperaments are bad, Kornfield goes on to say. But you need to understand what lies at the base of your thinking processes if you are to successfully transform into your best and truest self. It's not that we need to eradicate the tendencies, but it helps to know what you're working with.
So when I saw this window in Venice a few years back, my first thought was, "Ooh! Colored gloves! Wouldn't it be fun to own a pair! But how would you choose?" And then, luckily, the photographer in me kicked in and realized that what I would always love -- way more than the gloves -- is the color: the way they all look together in the window. "The grasping temperament, when transformed," says Kornfield, "gives rise to beauty and abundance."
And, just in case you fall into one of the other categories, he goes on to say that the aversive, fault-finding, negative temperament transforms into discriminating wisdom, non-contentiousness, and loving kindness; and that the deluded, confused, "spacy" temperament gives rise to spaciousness, equanimity and understanding, what he calls "the wisdom of great questioning" or "beginner's mind."
So see? It's all good -- we just have to work with what we have; to grow into what we were born to be. This reminds me of the enneagram classes I have taken: it's very hard, initially, not only to decide which number you are on the scale, but then to deal with the characteristics that define that number: they all seem so negative! But the fact is, you can't fix things until you understand what is broken; in order to embark on transformation it's important to understand what is being transformed, and to have a glimpse of what it has the potential to become.
I am reminded again of that wonderful image of the oak tree in Eat Pray Love. Perhaps the temperament, in this case, is the acorn we work with. And the mature tree, longing itself into glorious existence, is all that wonderful potential that lies within each of us, waiting to be born into holiness.