“Toothbrush?” (Impeccability)

Hi, Frameshifters.

Day 2 of #postaday. The word of the day is “toothbrush.” What in the blippety blop am I supposed to do on a coaching blog with toothbrush?

So I wrote a stream-of-consciousness blurb to try to unstick my brain. Eh… it had some kind of effect… sort of… Really, it gave me an idea for a science fiction story — not a coaching post. Sooooooo —

What now? Maybe let’s continue the overarching theme of self-esteem from yesterday, moving from satisfaction to impeccability. Watch this transition.

So, you know how a lot of people hate brushing their teeth? And UGH flossing? How it seems like wasted time, cuz what effect does it have, really? And then you go to the dentist, and they scrape the living holy hell out of your mouth and ask if you’ve been following the prescribed daily routine, and you decide how much to fudge the truth? And then you think, maybe I really should brush/floss every day, maybe even twice a day, and then you leave and continue NOT brushing/flossing daily? Well, welcome to a conversation about impeccability!

Eh, eh? Good, right?

But, for serious, let’s talk about how satisfying it is to do things you don’t want to do, to completion, like cleaning your room, or washing your car, or finishing that paper, or writing 12 blogs in a row! There is this narrative that we should all find what we love and do that, which implies “nothing but that,” which is just bullshit. There will always be things we need to do in our lives that we JUST. DON’T. WANT. TO. DO… And yet, when we start and complete them, it is the most sweet and satisfying feeling. “Look what I accomplished! I made it up that hill / made that cold call / talked to that bureaucrat / filed that paperwork / did that thing,” whatever it was.

I think about Zen Buddhist monks, and the notion of non-attachment, and I think, How boring… I mean, really? I totally understand being LESS attached to things/persons/events, because that leads to a more civil and rational mind, one that can experience great emotion and not get lost in it. I like the term “detached engagement” that I learned in coaching — at least there is engagement. Of course, having spent some time at a Zen monastery, I will tell you that life is HARD, from a standard “every day” sub/urban life perspective. “Chop wood, carry water” only begins to describe it. It’s more like

  • Hear clappers at 4:45am
  • Get to temple by 5:00am
  • Sitting meditation for 50 minutes
  • Walking meditation for 10 minutes
  • Sitting meditation for 50 minutes
  • Mantra/intonation
  • Morning chores (sweeping the temple, cleaning toilets, etc)
  • Eat breakfast
  • More morning chores (sweep the eating hall, do dishes, etc)
  • Complete temple work (chop wood, carry water, clear paths, farm, etc)
  • Eat lunch
  • Either personal time or more chores **
  • Personal time
  • Evening meditation for 50 minutes
  • Evening chores
  • Dinner
  • Post-dinner clean-up
  • Personal time
  • SLEEP!
  • repeat…

Talk about engaging in and completing tasks in which you have nearly zero interest… The monastic life is no joke. As a n00b, watching monks that have been living there for years FALLING ASLEEP during morning meditation… Rough stuff. I suppose that if every day consists of overcoming the “Why bother?” of a challenging life, non-attachment might not remove you from life at all… In fact, it might be a necessary contrast — brutal work and detachment as two sides of a coin that flips its way dizzyingly toward enlightenment. “Look what I accomplished” might not to be the proper frame at that point. “Look what I survived”? Or perhaps, as one of the monks/nuns pointed out during a wood-carrying task, being completely present in the moment, noticing what comes up and releasing it… I don’t know. I couldn’t hang. I fantasize about monastic life, but it’s terribly romantic in my mind, and not remotely realistic — a deep, mystical practice of reading and meditating and reading and listening and meditating.

“So, how are you going to eat?”
I don’t know! Don’t bother me with details…

Anyway, toothbrush… My original point still stands: without completing tasks we don’t enjoy, we’ll never fully understand what we are capable of. I’m sitting in a loft away from home, convincing myself that this #postaday thing is a good idea, attempting to develop some discipline outside and around my passions, so I can accomplish something I want in my life. So I guess that #postaday is like public toothbrushing? I’m stretching this metaphor way too far… This is the whole of my world right now:

2017-08-01 16.36.52.jpg

My toltec teacher used to say something to the effect of, “Impeccability is your résumé,” or roughly, how impeccable you are determines your reputation.

impeccable (adj): faultless; flawless; irreproachable

impeccability (n): orig. not able to sin

I’m going to treat this as a scalable quality to avoid the absolute of whether someone is without sin… A coach friend of mine said to me, “When you break promises to yourself, you lose faith and trust in yourself.” I see impeccability as a measure of how often you keep promises to yourself and others, and as a result, how much you trust that you will genuinely attempt to complete what you set out to do. By extension, your impeccability determines your self-esteem. I’m at conflict with my own definition, because I’d like to think that I have fairly high self-esteem, and yet I struggle with keeping promises to myself… and definitely have trouble trusting that I will accomplish what I set out to do. At least, that’s true in certain parts of my life. In other parts of my life, I am wildly confident that I will not only complete my task, but that it is the (nearly infallibly) RIGHT thing to do.

Wow, this is diverging again… While I figure out how much depth I want in these daily posts, why don’t I leave you with the stream-of-conscious $%^& that I wrote this morning (it’s in the little notebook I’m holding open on the left).

Clean, bristles, sweet, travel size, soft, rough, like a cat’s tongue on my gums, supposedly cleaning
adjust to the sensation, vibration in my face caused by the swift back-and-forth motion, dislodging the day’s meals leftovers, sparkling white teeth dappled yellow, rough edges and smooth caves
“Sort yourself out, bukko bucko!”
Prison shank from sharpened tip, cleaning tool used for staining clothes and the floor with blood. Life protecting tool used to end life, what wicked irony, like an airbag that breaks your face, or medication that you choke on, a disease that saves your life, cancer treating HIV, HIV treating cancer, two failures of the immune system being trained to kill each other, burn notice assassins that ambiguous(ly) work for themselves or the greater good? Do diseases save lives? The lives of the greater population… Could we use water from melting ice caps to hydrate all the new lives we’ve been producing? “Ice Melt H2O, the latest eco advancement by Endo Corp.” Dystopian utopian fever dream, where capitalism simultaneously dooms and saves the world.

Yeah, so that happened… So, let’s cap this off.

Brush your teeth every day — your self-esteem depends on it.

– Ryan

** This is when my partner and I tapped out. Well, we tapped out in advance because we were only partial retreatants. Full retreatants followed the rest of the schedule. That doesn’t take into consideration people who lived there full-time and actually had to run the place. Hard. Core.

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