Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 34: The Busser)
The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution.
(I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office. From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history. Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp. ‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun.
The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.” 34.
The Busser On a bright summer morning on the island of Allandon, the jeweler was sitting alone out on the patio of the village restaurant enjoying a cup of steaming coffee.
The busser came out to clear a nearby table, noticed the salt shaker, and then took the nozzle off and began working meticulously to clean it. When he had been at it for over a minute, the jeweler couldn’t help but make a remark. “Do you have to clean out every grain of salt?” he asked playfully.
The busser turned and thought for a moment, and then answered: “I guess that depends on whether I think I’m cleaning a salt shaker or changing the world.” The jeweler was intrigued by the busser’s comment. “What do you mean by that?” “Well, imagine I knowingly put this salt shaker down with one nozzle hole plugged. Maybe a woman sitting at this table one day would be having a conversation, and a wisp of a thought enters her head just as she is sprinkling salt in her soup.
The woman might faintly sense the stuck nozzle, and put in an extra dash. With her attention going to the slightly too-salty soup on her first spoonful, that wisp of thought might float off. This may have been an important thought, a building block to helping her friend heal her marriage. But if it went unexpressed, the marriage might not get healed and could continue to manifest in other areas. Perhaps it would contribute to her son growing up angry and choosing to act out violently when confronted with difficulties in his own relationships.
The son might end up in jail, and the ripple effects...” “Now wait. All this from unblocking a single salt shaker nozzle hole?” “Not necessarily. It could be the way the cutlery is arranged or how fresh the coffee is. It could be how I interact with the customers or the way I listen to what the waiters or the cooks need. It’s all about providing a space for people to be at their best.” “Is this part of the job description of being a busser?” “I like to think it’s part of the job description of being human.” The jeweler took a sip of his coffee. “I’m impressed,” he said. “You know, I could really use someone like you in my business. How would you like to work in my shop?” “I already am,” replied the busser. It is always fun for me to meet someone who feels they have found their mission, their calling, their purpose in life—whatever it may be. From my experience these people are happy, motivated, and able to deal with anything life throws their way. Best of all, they can bring everyone around them to life.
They remind me that my life works best when I am aligned with a purpose that not only fulfills me but also serves others in some important way. I know it’s not always easy to come to know what our purpose in life is. But working to discover it can really be half the fun. One good way to move closer to our purpose in life is to help someone else. We can help others discover their purpose by pointing out their skills and talents, by noticing what brings out their passion, what makes them feel alive. Sometimes people are so busy doing what they think they are supposed to do, they need us to notice where their energy really wants to take them. If we think about our own lives, we are sure to remember moments when we needed others to tell us that our lives meant something, that we mattered. Sometimes we need to be acknowledged for exactly who we are. We need someone to point out our beauty and value when we don’t see it in ourselves, when we don’t think we measure up or have anything worthwhile to offer. And when someone ennobles what we perceive to be our greatest faults, it can change everything. Note this charming parable that I received in an email a few years ago: An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a whole two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.” The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.” Acknowledging people for who they are and recognizing the beauty and greatness of their unique selves is the currency of the new conversation, and a skill worth developing. I’m still working on it. I learned a great lesson on this from a girlfriend several years ago. Early in our relationship she asked me to meet her at a center for mentally challenged people where she worked. I pretended that I had no problems with it, but in fact was very uncomfortable about entering into that environment, especially if I had to interact with some of those people. I suppose the only reason I actually agreed to go in was because I wanted to impress her with my, ahem, open-mindedness. Instead, I was the one who got impressed, by the way she spoke with her clients as human beings, without a hint of condescension. She exuded confidence that she could communicate with them, and I could see that she was able to. Her authentic expression slowly drew me into the conversation, and as I started speaking with a few of her clients I felt an invisible wall that I had built up between me and those people coming down for the first time in my life. It was a wall founded in my own judgment and fear. And when the wall came down, I started to get an inkling of the connectedness we shared. All my life I had shunned those people, dehumanized them, and unconsciously believed that their life was an unfortunate mistake and had no purpose. Like most humbling experiences, this one came with a gift. It got me closer to a deep awareness that everybody has a reason for being here, and each person’s life has purpose, no lesser or greater than anyone else’s.
There are no ‘those people’ except within a judgmental mind. We are really all connected by our individual and collective purpose. When we see that, then we see every interaction as an opportunity to wake each other up to our destiny. That is why everyone is invited in to the new conversation. We are all in this together. As John Donne said, we are all ‘the same author of the same volume.’ And as we boldly seek to fulfill the true desires we hold individually, we contribute to the ongoing story of humanity. We are at the precipice of a collective leap of consciousness. Our entire history has brought us to this point. And when we look at our own lives, we can see how our own history, our own experiences have brought us to this point, to reading this chapter in this book, to thinking about our own transformation. It is time for each of us to stop believing that we can’t make a difference, that we’re not part of this. Since we are all distinct individuals we each bring a unique spin on the universe that nobody else could provide. We have a role and we play a part.
The world is waiting for us to use that unique spin to consciously create, a sport previously reserved for the gods of myth and lore. In the new conversation we are moving quickly towards a critical mass of people who are becoming aware of how we are creating our circumstances, our lives, our world. And as we continue to encourage each other to experiment, to remember who we are, and to live in possibility rather than dwell in inevitability, our lives become ever more intertwined. Some time after I had begun writing this book I was looking through some old papers and came across a folder of my father’s writing which I had kept.
There were only a few pages of scant notes and the beginnings of a few stories. Under the title The Game Called Life was written the following introductory statement: I guess what this book is about is to make the following statement, and have it heard, miraculously, by myself and others: “I am god and you are god!” The ravings of a madman? I don’t think so! Up to that point I had always resisted seeing a connection between my father’s life and my own. I considered my life a moving-away from my father and his influence and behavior. But in that moment, with my book now well underway, the evidence really became impossible to ignore. I was clearly following something that he had started. Our purposes seemed to be aligned, as though I was meant to continue what he had embarked upon. Indeed, it would not be inaccurate to say that in The Game Called Life my father wanted to expand on the idea that we take ourselves too seriously. It was through the trials of a difficult life filled with fear and uncertainty that he had moments where a clear and breathtaking vision of a life of peace and exhilaration were possible. He never finished the book, nor did he really fulfill this vision in the way he lived his life. But just seeing those hand-written pages again, I could not help but feel a greater connectedness to a larger whole, and see my life itself as part of a plan far vaster and more complex than I could imagine. Much like my father, my own path has been fraught with fear, sadness and loneliness. As a child I was painfully shy, and growing up I was rather uncomfortable in social situations. As I became older I had a great desire to understand the mysteries of these social situations, so I made it a point to put myself in those situations, despite the discomfort, so that I could experience them and learn more about them. At least this way, if I got to know what other people were thinking and feeling, I wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable or stupid. Perhaps this was the original motive for my strong desire to ‘figure things out’ in life. Today, my past no longer causes me shame or regret. I have come to see why I had to experience those things to fulfill a greater plan. If I have experienced the dark side of human life during this lifetime, then all the more precise will be my language in talking about the possibility of emerging out of it. Who better than the most serious of people to speak about the possibility of creating a life that is fun? As Shakespeare’s young Prince Henry the Fourth remarked, Like bright metal on a sullen ground, My reformation, glitt’ring o’er my fault, Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes Than that which hath no foil to set it off. If we could help each other see the difficult experiences that we have had in our life so far in this way, as a foil against which our true nature can shine, as the darkness that brings out our light in greater relief, then perhaps it would become easier for us to believe that we have a very important contribution to make to the evolution of consciousness in the world, not in spite of our so-called ‘imperfections’, but because of them. Our active participation in life is what will help us heal, when we bring our darkness into our lives rather than shut it out of our lives. Our darkness, after all, defines our uniqueness. As Nietzsche reminds us, ‘Be careful when you cast out your demons that you don’t throw away the best of yourself.’ It is not important for us to push ourselves to be perfect, we need to simply encourage each other to be who we are. Who we are will naturally move us in the right direction, because at root who we are is love. My conversation with you has helped me to see that my purpose is fulfilled when I get out of my own way, that my mission to take life less seriously does not itself have to be so serious. In a way, just this thought makes me feel a bit lighter. else.
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