The Path To Bodhichitta

You start where you are, the practice will meet you there.

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Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Monday, March 23, 2009

Art Mirrors Life

Three young people were shortlisted for the position of a scriptwriter on our team. They came in for their second interview in nervous excitement, one of them breathlessly confessing that it was the most stressful day of her life. So strong was their need to pursue their dream.

Their first assignment was to write three scenes - an angry one, a romantic one and a comedic one. The work was barely passable but we decided to reserve judgement until the second assignment was completed. In this one, they were given four pictures and asked to select one, and then create a story around it. They then had to pitch their story to us, as if they were pitching to a real producer. And this was when their true selves shone through...unfortunately though, not in the best light.

The first crafted a story around a young girl whose thirst for freedom sucked her into the dark world of prostitution and destroyed her dreams. The story began well enough but the characters lacked depth and motivation. When we pushed her to define them further, she struggled and kept running in circles around her little plot line. Dungeon Master finally said, "Just be in one of them!" And the little lass replied, "I am in one of them!" Aha.

The second candidate's story revolved around an overweight girl who was repeatedly molested by her father which crushed her self-esteem. Again, the story began well but the heroine was flimsy. Dungeon Master asked, "Do you know your heroine? If I ask you what music she enjoys, can you tell me?" Without hesitation, the storyteller said, "Norah Jones" I asked, "What's her favourite food?" "Pasta, tomato-based," came the instant reply. Then we asked her personal questions about her heroine - what does she want in life, is her weigth or her father's abuse the bigger issue, what is she doing to overcome her obstacles in life? Like the first candidate, this one faltered as well, almost to the point of incapacity to speak. Aha.

The third candidate plucked her story straight from the world news and didn't bother adding a new punch or twist. She pitched the story with great passion and the more engaged she grew, the more annoyed I became. When asked why she didn't bother coming up with an orginal piece, she said she was planning to add her own ingredients but didn't have the time. Aha.

Write what you know. And they sure did. They cast themselves in their own stories. And they couldn't write those stories, because they couldn't face the issues they would have had to face and resolve. I can bet my last dollar that those stories will haunt them until they get written, and until then, none of their other stories - nomatter how brilliantly written - will ever be good enough. Either that or their writing will be one dimensional. Every story they write will be subconsciously wrtten for that secret story in their heart, and their writing will not evolve. And neither will they until they confront their beasts.

I thought about it on the drive home and realised that it's the same with a yoga practice. One of the reasons we are continuously attracted to and detest the same pose is because we need it to heal but at the same time, we have to face the imperfections that it reveals within us. Aha.


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