Envy and Pride

A teacher told this story last night (which I’m paraphrasing heavily), and I found it very helpful. Perhaps you will as well:

I was working as a volunteer to pick up a teacher at JFK. I happened to own a van and was one of the junior volunteers, so I was driving the luggage van. I was circling outside the terminal, waiting for the signal to pull up for the luggage to be loaded. I was feeling envious of the senior volunteers who were in the terminal to greet the teacher upon his arrival. But I let that thought go and had a flash of insight. I thought to myself, “I’ll just be the best luggage van driver ever.” Just then, I hit a concrete barrier on the side of the road.

2 Replies to “Envy and Pride”

  1. How do you interpret this story? Is the teacher’s “satori,” about fulfilling his own humble duties as best he can, rather than coveting another’s call, a fake? Is that why he hits a concrete barrier–because he’s actually “still grasping” in some sense–maybe at the delusion of “being the best luggage van driver ever?”

  2. Yeah, that’s pretty much how I’d interpret the story. If you’re attached to being “the best luggage van driver ever,” you’re not present in your current situation, so you won’t, for instance, be paying attention to the road (even though that’s what being the best luggage van driver ever would demand).

    I guess another way to put it would be that if you’re thinking about the accolades to be earned through what you’re doing, you can’t be thinking about what it is you’re actually doing, and those accolades may well elude you. Or even more pithily, it’s about the journey, not the goal.

    But I’m sure many other interpretations are valid.

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