Sunday, May 31, 2009
It's What We Don't Know...
I was in class this past week and a discussion occurred between two gals. "Amber" noticed "Betty" had a cell phone in class and Amber asked Betty if it was turned off. Betty replied it was on vibrate and that she needed it because of her daughter. Amber insisted that she turn it off or leave it outside of the room or leave it at the front desk and Betty politely said, I need it for my daughter, and it was left at that. Amber wanted the instructor to announce to the whole room that cell phones were strictly forbidden, and the instructor chose not to, I assume, because it really was singling out Betty.
After class, I overheard Amber talking to the instructor about Betty about how Betty really needed to leave the phone out of the room because Amber felt she couldn't concentrate with electronics present. Amber went on to say she didn't want to spend the whole class "just" focusing on her mat to try and tune out the presence of a cell phone or other electronic item.
I must admit, I also have been wondering why Betty needed her cell phone for her daughter. I have contemplated why her daughter had to get a hold of her during class, but figured there must be a reason for it, kids being kids these days or whatever. And I've been in classes where people have had their pagers and I've always assumed they were doctors, nurses, or EMTs on call or something. It's never bothered me and I've been able to move through my practice without giving it too much more thought. Really, isn't that what a person is supposed to do? Look inward during practice and tune out one's surroundings? I heard of a Buddhist mediation instructor who would take his class to the most busy and noisy places he could find to practice; that it is what is going on on the inside that matters, not your surroundings.
But it is also what we don't know that can have a lasting impact.
I later found out that Betty keeps her phone in class because she has a terminally ill special-needs child under the age of 10 and must be readily available in the advent of an emergency. Mealtimes are particularly dicey and the child's caregiver needs to be able to reach Betty at a moments notice. Betty chooses not to broadcast this to the entire class; when confronted she opts to politely but firmly state, "It's for my daughter."
Now one could get into the discussion about HOW this situation was handled or SHOULD have been conducted, but the matter is, events played out as they played out. All I know is I need to work on being more compassionate for those things that I don't know about.
Maybe the grumpy check-out lady at the grocery store had to work a double shift because a co-worker didn't call in. Maybe the cranky woman in line is trying to figure out how to buy groceries AND pay the bills. Maybe the person with the cell phone at the gym is talking to her spouce overseas. I don't know, maybe... maybe... maybe...
Be compasionate in your words, thoughts and deeds.