For those who have been anxiously awaiting the fate of THE REPORT, we dropped it in the big UPS box Monday afternoon, and it miraculously arrived at its multiple destinations, including Hawaii, the next day. I have added whoever invented overnight delivery to my list of personal heroes.
As I worked a few long days on the final details, it occurred to me that worrying so much about a report is a great luxury. People worry about much more serious things in this world: having enough to eat, living through the sickness or death of a family member, ending a relationship, avoiding land mines. In this context, I consider being allowed the time and energy to shape a piece of research and writing as perfectly as possible an extraordinary gift.
Gifts like this don’t always appear immediately useful. They don’t end world hunger or stop gang violence. Those of us who worked on the report hope it will lead to improvements; it may or may not. The effort must somehow contain its own merit.
A few years ago, a group of Tibetan monks came to campus and constructed an exquisite mandala. After a week of painstaking work, they prayed over it then destroyed it and carried the sand to a local creek to be washed out to sea—a lesson in impermanence. Knowing the mandala’s end didn’t deter the monks from studying for years to learn the art, from paying attention to each grain they placed, or from creating a work of stunning beauty.
I am not claiming that our report has the spiritual significance of a mandala, and I hope it doesn’t get washed out to sea or even accidentally deleted from the server. I like to think, though, that we made good use of the time we were given, that we honored it by producing something good. Because what is there to do with a gift but accept it?