By Randy Hampton
I’m not surrounded by Zen masters in my everyday life. My world is made of pretty average people - people who are just like me. Yet, I am finding the wisdom inside of the people around me to be particularly wise.
My best friend in the world, Tom, lives in Colorado. We worked together for many years and became the kind of friends that can stay connected despite long distance and months-long gaps in conversations. He’s a car guy and he doesn’t really hold much back if he has something to say. Yet, without even knowing it, he’s provided great wisdom in my life. One example is when he was teaching me to play golf in my 20s. I would get very frustrated and I developed a habit of cussing quite a bit after every bad shot. One day, while I was swearing and slamming my club into the ground, Tom looked at me and said, “I don’t know why you get so angry. You’re not that good.” I realized that he was right. If I was a professional golfer, I should be frustrated by stray shots that land in the water, sand, or weeds. As a guy who took an afternoon off to enjoy time with friends, I should probably leave the anger at the office. I’ve extended this outlook to much of my life. I’m still learning how to be a good person, a better husband, a better dad. In that case, I’m going to make mistakes. Maybe I shouldn’t be so upset by the little things. Thanks Tom.
Tom also taught me to play racquetball. The one thing he told me was that getting hit by the speeding little racquetball was something that was going to happen. There wasn’t really any avoiding it at times. The game moves quick and the ball moves quicker. He always stressed that it was much better to be hit in the back than in the face, “so don’t look back.” That’s pretty sound advice for life too. We have to keep our eyes forward even when all the action may seem behind us.
Today, I got so focused on putting the sun shade up in the windshield of the car that I forgot to put the car in park. With the window cover up, I didn’t notice the fence inching closer. The good news is that there was no damage but the sudden stop of the rolling car did make me jump a bit. I decided to learn from the mistake instead of beating myself up for it.
Thanks to a bunch of really great people, I’m learning to become a zen master myself. I’m better because I’m still learning. I’ve learned to look for the opportunity to learn something new. So, I move through the day looking for the lessons from each client, the lessons from the clerk at the store, the lessons from my pets, and the lessons from my own screw ups. Maybe one day I’ll know enough to share things with others and they can learn something too.