Saturday, April 25, 2015

Eating the Tangerine

Hello all,

Thanks so much for the opportunity for a few minutes of your time. I recognize the specialness of this experience, and thank you all for the chance to be a part of it! If you’re strapped for time, just jump to the centered paragraph at the end.

I’m at a place in life where I’m more exhausted than I think I've ever been. It’s been a rough two years. It was a place of privilege and opportunity that left me this tired, but at the end of the day, it doesn't make it any easier to put one foot in front of the other.

I was so exhausted that when I got the email that I had won, I honestly thought about just passing, since the pressure of writing anything felt like too much. Isn't that crazy? Has anyone else thought the same thing? Previously, when I thought about winning, I always had images or idea of sending something fun and positive.

So with that, this is the best I have for you: Something that has helped me before was mindfulness. Not sure, maybe it can help someone else. My favorite passage on mindfulness is below by Thich Nhat Hanh from The Miracle of Mindfulness. There are more sections than 600 words allow, so check it out.

The place it’s easiest for me to be mindful is in the kitchen. In the coming weeks, I’m going to have more free time than I know what to do with, and to be honest, that’s frightening. If you have a recipe you love, please send it on.

Thanks for the chance to focus on one section of the tangerine tonight. If you’re ever in the Washington, D.C area and looking for a good conversation or someone to grab a cup of coffee with, let me know!

Many years ago, a young man named Jim Forest asked me to teach him about the practice of mindfulness. But when I offered him some tangerines, he continued telling me about the many projects he was involved in — his work for peace, social justice, and so on. He was eating, but, at the same time, he was thinking and talking. I was really there, and that is why I was aware of what was going on. He peeled a tangerine, tossed the sections of it into his mouth, and quickly chewed and swallowed. I said, “Jim, stop! Eat your tangerine.” He looked at me and understood. So he stopped talking and began to eat much more slowly and mindfully. He separated each of the remaining sections, smelled their beautiful fragrance, put one section at a time into his mouth, and felt all the juices surrounding his tongue. Tasting and eating his tangerines in this way took a few minutes, but he knew we had the time for that. When he finished, I said, “Good.” I knew that the tangerine had become real, the eater of the tangerines had become real, and life had become real at that moment. What is the purpose of eating a tangerine? It is to eat the tanger­ine. During the time you eat a tangerine, eating that tanger­ine is the most important thing in your life

Washington, D.C

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