Sotto Voce.

"Qui plume a, guerre a." — Voltaire

How it All Started

Someday I hope to explore this in a little more detail, but posting it here is at least a start. For me, the moment that made everything else possible — philosophically speaking — happened about 20 years ago while I was watching a TV story about department store mannequins. More specifically, about a man who makes his living as a department store mannequin.

Who here remembers the old series PM Magazine? For those who don’t, each program was a series of short human interest stories from the local area and elsewhere around the country. As a teenager I used to watch it regularly (and not just because of the drop-dead gorgeous local co-host).

Well, one night one of the segments featured, as I mentioned, the story of a man who would stand in department stores modeling clothes, moving awkwardly on a podium as though he was a machine — a slow, sharp arm raise there, a robot-like turn of the head there. People would gather and gawk; he was so good that he could make even skeptics look behind him for the electrical cord or the wind-up key.

When the reporter interviewed the man, she asked the obvious yet nevertheless intriguing question: “But what do you do if you have an itch?”

“I say to myself, ‘Yes, that is an itch,'” he replied. “I just accept that it itches. Then I don’t have to scratch it.”

(Try it. It works.)

This story keeps coming back to me when I think about cause and effect, or Zen Buddhism, or about my relationiship to conflict. Just because something itches doesn’t mean we always have to scratch. And just because we’re not scratching doesn’t mean we have to be fighting the instinct to scratch, either. We can just accept the itch.

I wish I could find that mannequin man and thank him for the wonderful, life-altering gift of his incredible insight.

And next time you feel an itch, try just accepting it and see what happens.

Then see what else you can accept.

Categorised as: Life the Universe and Everything

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