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Tour-ons!*

September 8, 2010

This morning I encountered this wonderful proverb…

“Although the lamp is in his hand, the blind man cannot see his way.”

…and it got me thinking about my own practice and the way I incorporate it with the rest of the world around me.

Sometimes, I think, it’s not that the lamp isn’t in my hand, but whether or not it is lit at all times. In my line of work, I encounter many people each and every day. Those people range in all aspects, from rich to poor, black to white, blue collar to white collar— the gamut of folks I run into each day is broad to say the least.

Why is it then, that in some situations, my actions could be so different? I’ve just started to notice this, but it seems I have quite the aversion to those folks that are rich. More specifically, those that are rich and have magnificent homes here on the Cape, right on the water.

The aversion really kicks up when I see the license plates on the Mercedes and BMW’s in the driveway, and they are not from Massachusetts. The thoughts that run through my head go something like this…

“Damn wash-a-shores, I can’t even afford to buy a home where I was born and raised yet they come here for two months out of the year, if that, and act like they are entitled to everything. They drive slow as hell, are always window shopping, from their car windows. And when they meet a native Cape Codder they act like we are some sort of museum exhibit.”

I realize it is my judging mind getting in the way, but the fire of aversion not only gets stoked with each encounter, it’s like a wildfire sometimes, it engulfs my mind completely. I find myself, in those situations, maybe acting a little differently with the person(s). I may be short in conversation, and quick with a response to even a well thought out question.

Shantideva, in The Bodhicaryavatara, makes a great analogy…

Those who wish to protect their practice should zealously guard the mind. The practice cannot be protected without guarding the unsteady mind.

Untamed, mad elephants do not inflict as much harm in this world as does the unleashed elephant of the mind in the Avichi Hell and the like.

But if the elephant of the mind is completely restrained by the rope of mindfulness, then all perils vanish and complete well-being is obtained.

So, now that the summer season is coming to end here on the Cape, I find myself reflecting on my behavior this summer and it’s not the type of behavior I am to proud of. Luckily, I have until July 4th to get this mess worked out before the next tourist season begins.

* Tour-on is my word for a tourist/ moron, yeah I know….

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2010 7:53 pm

    Thanks Dwan,

    Your comments definitely are understood. We deal with it here every year, I’ve lived on the Cape for 36 years now and it’s the same thing every summer. Now, with my current job, I see more of them as I’m in and out of their second, or third, homes. These homes sit and collect dust for 10-11 months a year. They come here, buy the stuff up, this making the demand a bit higher, and thus makes the prices stay up. Many folks my age have moved from the area cause they cannot afford the homes here, but I refuse to leave because I love living here.

    We still have four, enjoyable seasons, I love Cape Cod. I just cannot stand the tourist season.

  2. September 8, 2010 12:36 pm

    Hmm – I have thoughts that go both ways on this one.

    I live very close to Seaside and Watercolor in NW Florida. Between this region and New Orleans, I’ve been in close, frequent contact with tourists for a long time.

    For the most part I’ve got no worries or beef with tourists, beyond an eye roll at the perceived need for a hurricane (drink) off of Bourbon St., etc. Some times I get frustrated by typical tourist behavior – not paying attention in traffic/grocery stores, stopping traffic in both said traffic and groceries whilst they get their bearings, etc. This is when I strive to remember what the Dalai Lama says about difficult people … I try to be grateful for the opportunity to learn tolerance, compassion and another’s perspective from them. Pema Chödrön speaks to this when she says: ”If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”

    On the other hand, I will say this. There are a lot of people who vacation around here that I guess some would term “nouveau riche.” For the most part I really don’t like the term, as it stems from the … snobbery of old money. However, sometimes I think it’s a more than apt term, as it speaks to the vulgarity of the people I’m talking about. I suspect that a large percentage of our tourists did not struggle coming into money, or if they did, their success stemmed from a cultivated self-centeredness. This kind of visitor is likely to speed everywhere, cut people off in traffic, step out into roads without looking, cut in lines at checkouts and grocery stores, tip poorly, complain a lot and so on. Generally, they react to their environment with greed, arrogance and a sense of needing to be treated better than the folks that make their meals, sell their groceries, serve them in bars, etc. I say this only after many, many years of living amongst them, or rather them visiting where I live. ^_-

    Their response when I respond to them with compassion, kindness and patience tends to be a bit reminiscent of a black hole – energy and light go in and don’t return. I don’t look to these people for validation or kindness (though I do expect civility). And this is where my practice is weakest. How do I deal with toxicity? The Dalai Lama said “In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” I agree with that and try to “make it work” for me. However, I’m not sure that tolerance and compassion are enough in this situation.

    Anyway, really interesting post, and I appreciate your frankness. Wish I had something more useful to share other than my own questions and concerns, haha. ^_^

    All my best!

    — Dwan

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