There is a well-known story in Buddhist circles about a giant clay Buddha in Thailand.
The Thai government announced that they were going to build a road through a temple, and the monks were scrambling to move their most precious sacred object – a giant clay Buddha. They brought in a crane to move the statue, but it was surprisingly heavy and began to crack, so they had to lower it again. They covered it for the night to protect it from rain, and the abbot went out to check on it. When he shined his flashlight, he saw a glimmer in the crack, so he woke the monks and put them to work with chisels. They uncovered a solid gold Buddha, which had been hidden under clay by earlier monks fearing an invasion. The attack occurred and those monks were killed, but the Buddha survived, all the better for the fact that no one knew what had happened.
The lessons of this parable are many, and oft-shared; the hidden gold, the unseen, that which is not what it seems, that which is clay being gold and that which is gold being clay, etc. But there is one more that I have not read:
When the government builds some stupid road, and runs roughshod over the people who were happily living right where some bureaucrat decided that road should be (I notice it never runs through the bureaucrat’s back yard), sometimes you find a golden Buddha.
Which brings me to today’s topic:
Who needs roads, when your car won’t run?
Last week, I took my car to the mechanic to get an electrical issue diagnosed (for the third time). Where it used to take a week or two to get an appointment, it now takes several months, so I’ve been keeping my remote charger handy as my battery is dead if the car sits for more than 24 hours without running. In the middle of the morning, the service manager called and said, “what are we doing today?” Not a great sign.
So after several deep breaths, I explained what the appointment was for (again). A few hours later, I got another phone call, “my guy needs it overnight.” This time, I forgot to breathe. “It was there overnight. You guys scheduled this appointment for me – I rely on your team to tell me what is required. If I knew how to deal with this, it wouldn’t be in your shop!” I will spare you to the details of the remainder of this conversation, but the upshot was that I ended up having to schedule an additional three days to leave the car with them, at great inconvenience and annoyance to myself. The other upshot was that I lost way more of my cool than was acceptable.
I took a walk down to the cove, picturing myself as George in a Seinfeld episode that didn’t exist but could have. Elaine saying, “George, stop yelling!” George saying, “I’m not yelling! I’m speaking forcefully. Totally different.” Kramer bursting in, “Why are you yelling?” “I’m not yelling! Jerry, am I yelling?” Jerry, “Yeah, you’re kind of yelling.”
George, “THAT’S NOT YELLING! NOW I’M YELLING!”
So I walked back up the hill and I dialed the phone. “Hyundai Service.” “Hi, this is Sarah Thompson, we just spoke.” “Hi Sarah.” “Hi, hey, I want to apologize for raising my voice.” “Honestly, I’m surprised you’re still so civil after all this! But thank you.”
These days, this particular service department, I have a feeling they are getting a lot of irate phone calls, and I won’t say they are unwarranted. I’m sure I’m not the first person to lose it. But I wonder if I’m the first person to call back and apologize.
After keeping my car, they called me at 3 in the afternoon on a Friday to say that the mechanic had just taken a look at it and didn’t have time to run the diagnostic until Monday.
We’re in ongoing discussions.
I could really use that Buddha about now.
But how many times have I failed? How many times have I let someone else down? How many times could someone have yelled at me, but didn’t? (Or did)?
And how many times has something that is clearly not the end of the world (not having a car for a couple days), felt like the end of the world, and not been the end of the world?
Could I learn to ask for help; for a ride, for someone to pick something up for me, for a little more time, because I don’t have the tools to do it all myself?
And how many times have I NOT apologized, when I could have? How many times have I overdrawn the karma bank with anger, instead of augmenting it with abundance?
What does it mean when someone says, “everything happens for a reason?” Do they mean that some plan is running? Or can it mean that the “everything” that happens only shows up on the radar for me because it is hitting something in me that is ready to be revealed, ready to heal, ready to shine, but not without chipping away all the clay? What if the “reason” is mine; my ability to simultaneously surrender to events while exercising my will over my response? No on else needed for me to not have my car, or my temper, or my pride? I needed it. That was the reason.
I had an appointment with the karmachanic. I’ve been in the shop.
I guess I needed a tune-up.
When the state builds a road, my job is to find the golden Buddha.
I just need to get out my chisel.