January 20, 2009

Right Speech in a Shit Shovelling World

I'm sitting in the basement of the student union, in the messy offices of the Daily Nebraskan, waiting for tomorrow's proofs to come out so I can read them, correct them if needed, and go home. Or, not home, but rather back to architecture hall, where my team is still working mid-charrette on our design for the Urban Land Institute's Student Design Competition. It is 10:30 p.m. I can feel my practice going quietly off the rails.

They tell us to guard ourselves from ingesting unhealthy things - from food and drink to entertainment and companionship. I am not cooking, but eating out twice every day. I am drinking far too much coffee. And entertainment and companionship has boiled down to a bunch of irreverent, vulgar college students discussing the last time they were drunk (yesterday), masturbating, and quoting South Park. Luckily, I am not easy to offend, so it doesn't bother me. The problem is when I find myself being seduced into participating, out of some misplaced need to fit in and get that extra little ego-stroke.

Maybe I'm worrying about it too much. I find it odd that I don't mind hanging out with people who engage in this kind of behavior/conversation but am disturbed by my tendency to join in. Guess that makes me a hypocrite. Of course, I never say anything about it. What good would that do? It would make people feel less comfortable around me, less free to express themselves. Maybe that's a good thing and maybe not. Maybe somebody needs to tell them they spend far too much time getting drunk and seeking/thinking/talking about sex. Maybe someone needs to shake them up a little bit so they will reexamine their lives. Is that me? If it is, I don't know how to do it.

Of course, that's never stopped me before. I frequently take on projects I have no idea how to achieve. So really, it's more like cowardice. I don't want them to not like me anymore. And something in me kinda likes the fast-paced trash talk, the mildly insulting verbal fencing, the witty, if vulgar, repartee. It's not something I get a lot of. I find myself sometimes swimming in the gutter and then wondering if I'm going to contract some infection disease that will be difficult to cure. Maybe it's not the best idea.

I have an entire semester ahead of me, and probably next year too, here at the DN. I am looking forward to it and I think I can safely navigate the cross-talk. The thing that worries me more is the next two weeks spend in almost constant company with my brilliant ULI teammates - four of the most accomplished shit-shovellers it has ever been my guilty pleasure to know. How do I practice right speech in that situation?

I guess I've got two weeks to figure it out.


wolfie185 said...

Good luck!!
I work with people in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s that still act like people in their teens and twenties, vulgarity and profanity. I will be honest in saying I still use profanity and dropping the “F” bomb is fairly common but I am getting better at it. I have never been one for the behaviors you described but I have learned to blow others who do subscribe to these behaviors to the best of my ability on a daily bases, some days when I am taking life too damn seriously and life is all about “Me” I allow others words and behaviors to effect me but most of the time it doesn’t. My problem is I come across as being arrogant and prudish and maybe I am this is something I need to work on, a way to come across less judgmental in my actions or facial expressions. Hopefully someone will give you a good Dharma answer to your post. I just try and do the best that I can with the awareness I have and if something is really eating at me, sit and really mediate on the how come.
Thought maybe you would write about your feelings on the inauguration? I loved his speech and hope he upholds every line of it.

Monica said...

I didn't get to see the inaguration. I was at school and every live video feed we tried froze up about an hour before. Too many people trying to watch, i guess. I'll try to watch it this afternoon.