Tess Tomlinson is an experienced yoga practitioner & teacher, has managed restaurant staff, planned weddings, worked for a band on a nationwide tour and completed a month long silent meditation retreat. She dropped into our Operations Team seamlessly during the busiest part of the season in 2017. Her words are a testimony to her unique ability to maintain objectivity and process experiences on a deep level.
-How can we balance being beginners with retaining wisdom and gaining expertise? For as enriching as it can be to approach life with a beginner’s mind, there are times in which we must act while in possession of references. The endless beginner can start to grate on fellow team members if always deflecting decision making upon others. She can reliably fall all alone if engaging life without some recall of skill.
As with in a yoga or driving trucks, we must transport what we have learned in order to meet or match situations with inquiring, spacious minds, rather than empty-seeming minds actually filled with doubt. It is one thing to approach each new situation with a clogged sense that we don’t have the right information or the bits we know don’t add up, or to go about life willfully avoiding retaining information so as to aggressively stay a beginner. And it is a whole other thing to clunkily carry out ahead of us all that we know, effectively blocking new information from entering. Where is the middle line? And does that line look and feel different when working alone or within a group?
I wonder sometimes what our volunteers feel when they are asked to effectively drop into our way of thinking, contravening perhaps their instinct for what is the right move at the moment. As a ladder trip leader, I can rely on at least one joyful tree climber to completely follow his own path, up into trees with tiny top branches, cradled by wobbly corners. In any environment in which we relate with others, there will be some sense of ‘self-sacrifice’ as we lay our own agendas down before us and they are ignored or misheard or noted and forgotten. Some of us will be accustomed to this feeling and for others of us it will feel unfamiliar and perhaps lead to a grievance.
So maybe the question is, how can our concept of ourselves and a confidence in our own judgement be steady enough to keep us and others from harm but open enough to allow in the unfolding wisdom of each new minute?-
By Tess Tomlinson
Boston Area Gleaners
91 Martin Street
Acton, MA 01720