Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What is a holiday?

A client sent me a quotation today because it reminded her of our teaching. The quotation is from Hamlet: "Nothing's either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." I first learned it many years ago, when I was a high school student with a very good English teacher. Like all short quotations, there is much it cannot say - it is true in that all of our experience is ultimately internal - nothing hurts until we think about it. It does not seem to be true if we take it to mean that we have absolute freedom to choose our experience. Some things do not have a bright side, and others cost more than they should. We need to discern differences.

What is the difference between a work day and a holiday? My son recently performed in Our Town, a play by Thornton Wilder. In that play, the main character is describing two women in typical middle-class early 20th century households. He notices that they work without break, caring for their families and cooking, and do not consider themselves ill-used. Is it a holiday because you cook in a cottage kitchen instead of your own?

My dad taught me to golf when I was about 13. Golfing with him was an intense experience: it involved quite a lot of physical exertion (he loved to play when the weather was really hot), mental focus (it was important to play well), and chores (he would look at a zipper left undone on my bag and tell me "neatness counts"). Was that work or play?

When I was in university, I went to the doctor because I was tired and having headaches. She asked me what I did for fun. There was no way for me to tell her that I worked for fun. I was so stimulated by my learning and writing, that was what I did. I spent about ten hours a day reading and writing - not because someone was paying me to do it, not because someone made me do it - because I loved doing it.

When people walk into a training room, some are ready to work and some are ready to be entertained. Some are taking a break and some are working. Their bodies and minds will go through patterns of experience that take them out of their current lives and introduce new possibilities and new sensations. They feel less pressured and more pumped. Some are working and some are playing. It's all the same course.

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