Last Saturday, I attended a talk at the San Francisco Zen Center, where the speaker talked about her experience attempting to use technology mindfully. Which was strangely appropriate as most of this week I have been attending the Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Jose and doing my best to do just that. Problem is, when I try to be mindful about technology, I feel like I'm not doing a good job of keeping up with everyone. I see tweets and posts about this and that seminar, encouraging words, funny photos, people connecting and I think, that's so great! But I also find it incredibly overwhelming. Maybe one day I will be better about posting and keeping up on social media. Until then... nonprofit tech peeps...know that I love you and appreciate you, even though I don't tweet about you.
I also remember the speaker at Zen Center talking about names, which I always find fascinating. What we choose to call ourselves and who and what we identify with. A name is a powerful thing. Or, it can be.
I recently attended afternoon meditation at the Berkeley Zen Center and was delighted to finally be sitting in the afternoon again. I think the last time I sat in the afternoon was when I was living in Austin, a year and a half ago.
Anyway, when I realized we were going to have a short service at the end of meditation, I got really excited. I used to feel so uncomfortable with ceremonies. Now, I absolutely love them. The doan (the person who strikes the bells) was just lovely and the kokyo (the person who leads the chants) did such a wonderful job. I remember the role of kokyo at Austin Zen Center well and remember my nerves and always wondering what my voice sounded like to other people. During one ceremony, years ago, I offered to say the name of a friend of a friend who had died on that day years before (the evening ceremony at zen centers often involves saying aloud the names of people who are ill, struggling or in some cases, deceased, as a way of honoring them and offering well wishes). I didn't even know this person, but I knew how much she meant to my friend. When it came time to say her name, my voice stopped. I couldn't get her name out and my heart started pounding. Something about saying her name felt powerful and I felt overcome with sadness. After a few moments of silence and me struggling to compose myself, I managed to say her name and close the ceremony.
Afterwards, people consoled me and I felt embarrassed. I tried to explain that I didn't know her and couldn't understand my own reaction.
What's in a name? So much.
(What I'm listening to right now: Georgia by Vance Joy)