Sunday, December 29, 2013

Not Zen 91: Imitating Serenity

Two women grew up in the same neighborhood of the same town, one a year older than the other. After they finished school, they each went into the business of nursing to the sick and elderly. Both had reputations for kindness. The younger of the two women, shorter and stronger, grew nervous over the years. Her sleep grew restless. Her health had been excellent when she was young but, finally, one day on the job she passed out from exhaustion.

The next morning, she lay in bed recovering. She improved as she talked with her first two visitors. However, the next person who came to her bed was the thin, older and more famous nurse. In a few minutes, the younger one began throwing up.

She didn't stop vomiting until her friend left. The other nurses noticed her symptoms. They conferred and decided to call for their boss.

“I hear that you're unhappy with your visitors,” said the senior nurse when she arrived.

“Who said that?”

“Never mind. Is it true?”

“I don't know. I don't think so. I'm just unhappy in general, I think.”


“I have no idea. I mean, just look at my friend who came earlier today. She does the same things I do. She's satisfied and at peace with herself.”

“I know her. And I know you. I see a great difference in the way you do things.”

“No, there's no difference.”

“You think there isn't because you compare yourself to her. You mirror what she does. You're careful that there's no gap between her achievements and yours, right down to the small, virtuous habits that make her so good.”


“Can't you see that's the difference? She loves you but she doesn't measure herself by you. She doesn't act nice to others in order to compete with you. She does it because she feels that's it's right to be that way.”   

“I do that, too.”

“Sometimes, yes. But when you try to imitate your friend, it wears you out.”

“It shouldn't. She was always the sickly one when we were growing up. If anyone is getting tired, it should be her.”

“Really? Who is going to be better at being her? Who needs to work hard and who can just be herself?”

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