"Why contracting? Is it stable? Were you able to stay on projects all of that time?"
It was a question from an employee to me, a contractor... and for a moment, I felt the draw into the question, waking up to see myself starting to babble, in time to gracefully put myself back on track.
The question itself is purely innocuous, nothing more than a spring breeze or an itch, but friends and followers may understand how the question may have hit me differently. All of the sudden, I am there again. The mind is in overdrive rationalizing, filling in the details; my tongue is starting to wag and words are rolling out.
I'm putting things in a good light. I'm justifying my choices. I'm stringing the words together ever so eloquently, just so...
... but for whom? This fellow has no idea of my history, nor--however interesting it may be--did he ask for it.
Who was talking? Who was listening?
I fell asleep and suddenly I woke up.
And quite simply, that's how it happens.
Zen practice--and koan practice in particular--cuts to the root of situations like these. Am I on autopilot, at the whim of everything that happens to me? Do I have no choice in how to respond? It's a matter of staying awake--and maybe graceful recoveries when you realize you've slipped.