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Swimming in Words

April 22, 2016

Words by Diane Luque via

Too many words. Too many ideas. All searching for connection, but there are only so many places to plug them in, only so many threads to connect them to one another, to anchor them down. The rest are just floating, swimming. I can’t think straight sometimes.

Everything I’m studying now:

  • The entire field of practical theology
  • How the Bodhicaryavatara pertains to spiritual care
  • Buddhist education
  • The history and meaning of Humanistic Buddhism
  • Master Taixu
  • Religious pluralism and Buddhism
  • Theories of learning and teaching
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • The Pali language
  • Localization of Fo Guang Shan
  • Individualistic and collectivist cultures
  • Communication styles across cultures

These are in no particular order.

It’s too much, really too much. Even with enough time in the day, my brain can’t sort it out.

What good does it do to hit my library limit and still ask if I can check out more books? This is an addiction, right?

Part of it’s my job. Half of those projects are for work, either as assignments or for professional development. Some are for my degree, for qualifying exams. The rest are for two conferences I’m trying to attend this year.

I need to pause, to digest. Writing helps me do that. It helps me organize my thoughts in the semi-logical order of words, sentences, paragraphs, arguments, papers.

Also, I need to get away from the words. I need to move to think. Walking helps me do that, back and forth on campus, around in circles in the neighborhood, up and down hills with the dog. Yoga helps, stretches my body and makes me focus on non-verbal perception.

Sometimes I just need to turn it off. I turn on the tv instead. They have words, too, but I don’t have to remember them, to connect them. It’s more of a feeling thing.

I wish I could turn it off with meditation. Let the words settle out of mind, let my mind be blank, but I’ve never actually experienced that. Mostly meditation is just stepping back while the words continue to run their merry way, with or without me.

I feel out of control and I try to control it with planning, with schedules and to-do lists and work-flow charts. Then I forget a meeting or skip a task and all my delusions about control blow gently away in a puff of smoke.

In the end, I remember to be kind to myself. Slow down a little. Breathe a minute. No sense in worrying too much. All is impermanence. Open the next document and get stuff done.

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