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Clean a Clean Toilet

True story.

I was having sushi with an acquaintance in San Francisco.

Very cool guy - Google engineer, very cultured, very smart on lots of topics.

One thing came up that was fascinating to me - he did an almost-silent Zen retreat for quite a while, like a month or two. I don't remember the exact details, but I think they only spoke for 10 minutes per day, or if the Zen master spoke to them? Something like that.

Anyways, he told me that it was all surprisingly mundane at first. No huge breakthroughs, just sitting meditating, and doing lots of chores. The first thing they did every morning was to clean the temple, including the bathrooms.

Encouragement versus criticism

On Farah Husain

How many dreams and careers have been ruined by criticism before they have even had the time to take off? Time and time again we are told by teachers, parents and so called friends what we can and cannot do.

I remember as a student handing in a story I had spent all evening writing to a teacher who then asked me to stay behind after his lesson. I thought he was going to congratulate me on my effort. Instead he said "14 year old girls do not write horror stories. Never hand in a piece of work like this again!"

I never did. Instead I wrote a novel which took me three years and promptly got thrown in a drawer and never again saw the light of day. How quickly we can be derailed from our dreams by criticism when a kind word of encouragement would be far more productive.

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