Day 284 – A Second Opinion
It’s -3 degrees tonight (that’s 26 degrees in American terms). It wasn’t much warmer earlier today and the heat hasn’t been working in my new place.
I spent several chilly hours in the cold this afternoon (luckily the redecorating was helping me work up a sweat) before my sister-in-law tried to help me figure out what was going on with the HVAC system. It turned out we needed an expert so, I called one – Service Experts that is. And they were experts of sorts. Experts in getting me to part with my hard-earned cash!
Luckily our real estate broker and my mom persuaded me to get a second opinion on whether or not we needed to replace the entire HVAC system or not. I called a local service expert and truly got one this time by the name of David. David explained that while he would be happy for me to buy a new HVAC system, there were a few things he could do before he believed we would have to give up and replace the entire system. Luckily for me, those little things worked and the heat was back on in less than 30 minutes. I was so impressed with his help and workmanship that I signed up with his company for regular maintenance right there and then.
I can be very reactionary when triggered, and jump to the action of my impulses if I’m not being mindful. However, I do my best nowadays to take more deep breaths after shocking news (such as the news that the entire AC/ heat system in my newly bought home needs to be replaced) and tell myself that no one will die if I don’t make a decision right there and then. If I’m unsure about what to do, I work harder to get a second opinion, even though it make take more time and could cost me more money.
This got me to thinking about practice and Buddhism at it’s best. In my experience I have been constantly advised by my teachers to question the reality of everything. In this case – which service guy was telling me the truth about my system?
I would like to think my second opinion was telling me the truth because he didn’t seem to have the money agenda that the first opinion was trying to push. But, ultimately, both service men agreed that there is a blocked valve in the system and it’s old enough that it might need to be replaced sooner rather than later. My second opinion did give me a longer time frame for doing this though, which is great when it comes to saving up a bit of money for expensive repair work. I appreciated all the advice my first opinion gave me, and he seemed to do a good job himself, but his opinion wasn’t the right opinion for me. My second opinion gave me the freedom of choice and worked more within the reality I’m living right now.
I have also been consistently advised by my teachers to question everything. I have been taught not to simply take my teacher’s word for the truth. I have been encouraged to go out into the world and practice in order to find out whether what I have learned in Sangha is the truth of my experience. I love this idea of being told to do my own research. In fact that is what got me writing this blog, to explore and experiment with what I was being told rather than passively take the lessons to be the truth. Interestingly, I have found 99% of all teachings to be true to my experience. Does this make them true to yours though?
Personally, I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to believe these lessons are all true to your experience because I’ve met too many people in this world whose views differ widely from mine, and I know they’d disagreed with almost everything I write about on here. Yet, this thinking lead me onto another second opinion – this time about my writing – through the discussion on Gwen Bell’s Google+ hangout that I wrote about yesterday.
I got a reply to my comment from Gwen, who told me she could sense hurt in my response to her questions. She also told me she felt I was unhappy with this blog (which is why I was hurt by her question) for one of several reasons (paraphrased by me):
- I didn’t have enough readers
- I wasn’t getting enough out of my blog
- I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of my blog
- My blog was feeling stale to me
- I was losing interest in my blog/ the subject matter and wanted to move on
Interestingly, and in my understanding, these were some of the reasons why Gwen has been experimenting with her work and the different ways she is sending it out onto the web, yet for me they are far removed from my experience writing here.
Side note: Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to expose Gwen Bell or dirty her name or something. The discussion simply got me thinking about why I blog here and what I’m trying to achieve with my writing.
I didn’t feel hurt over her questions first and foremost. I believe this is an issue we will always have facing us when dealing with people socially online – the issue of how we read and understand other people’s words. In my experience, it’s hard to gain true tone and feeling in another person’s words unless I am standing in front of them (it’s sometimes even hard when I’m facing another person). I hope I have been able to correctly convey my tone and feelings in every one of my blog posts here, but this is ultimately the challenge for a writer and one I will continue to fail at on my journey.
Second of all, my discussion with Gwen helped me focus on the fact that I did not start this blog for financial gain or popularity. I haven’t put up any Google Ads or especially worked hard to market my blog. I have simply posted my writing to my personal social media sites, or I have followed and commented on others writer’s blogs, which in turn has led other people to my writing. I also have to clarify that while it says I have 728 followers on my homepage, this is hardly the case. I have just over 60 WordPress followers. The rest of my ‘followers’ are all the people who follow me or have subscribed to my feed on Twitter and Facebook (i.e. my friends).
For me, 60+ readers of my blog is amazing and I’m humbled that so many people take the time to read my writing when they have much better things to do with their lives. I’m further humbled by the people who comment on my work or share it with others. That is the true icing on the cake for me.
S0, with all this in mind I discovered that because I am not seeking financial gain out of my personal writing to the web right now, it makes no sense that I am charging for my new Letter – Committed To Failure. I was simply following the teachings of Gwen Bell and Ev Bogue, who appear to be doing great with their readership. After following them both for over a year, I got on their paths instead of following my own, and I don’t believe it’s authentic for me to charge for my personal writing right now. That’s not to say I won’t charge later on down the line for different products, but I’d rather share my work for free with those interested in reading and continue to discover an amazing online community as I have done here since February last year.
Therefore, if you’re interested in reading about how I’m failing, and some of the ways in which I succeed, then stay posted and I will link to it here on the blog when I get it up and running. Letter.ly wouldn’t let me charge $0 for the letter so I need to move it to a more appropriate venue. Warning though: I had been trying to publish a letter every week, but so far I am a week behind and also a couple of days late with the latest letter. That’s just another of the many ways in which my current experiments are failing. Yet, this is the practice and you’re most welcome to join me on my quest for failure!
If my letter doesn’t interest you or my blog is taking away from your life, please don’t sign up and click unsubscribe. I don’t wish to burden you with something you have no interest in or little time for.
2012 is going to be a year in which I stick to my own path instead of paying to follow the paths of those who are prone to failure themselves. May you have the wisdom to unsubscribe from the things in your life that are detracting from it too.