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Vive la differénce!

August 3, 2023

Imagine for a moment the following scene:

A group of friends who love good food begin to meet from time to time to go out for lunch or dinner at different restaurants or cook together at one of their homes.

They all enjoy their evenings together but, as is natural over time, the more they know and learn about food, they begin to notice that their particular tastes become more defined and start becoming different from each other.

Some prefer oriental dishes, others enjoy strong and highly seasoned stews, still others prefer pastas and salads, and some even begin to experiment with ‘fusion’ cuisine.

Variety is the spice of life

The end of our diner friends story could be written in several ways, depending on the attitude they decided to take.

On the one hand, they could each lock themselves in their personal taste, little by little distancing themselves from their former friends while they wonder where their ‘bad taste’ in food came from.

They could argue and fight among themselves, criticizing the way HE cooks or how bad HE eats, especially when it is evident that MY way of cooking and the food I like to eat is clearly the best.

Or they could take a third and very exotic route, accept that everyone has their own taste, and rejoice because despite their differences they all continue to share something in common, the love and passion for fine eating.

Who knows? They might even find that their gatherings become more interesting now that everyone has such different styles, and even be encouraged to try new flavors that might pleasantly surprise them.

Stones in glass houses

By now many will be wondering; And what does the story of a group of friends who like food have to do with meditation or running?

Actually, we just have to observe ourselves carefully to realize that we fall into this situation more commonly than we would like to believe.

As we grow in experience and begin to discover the style of training, the meditative practice or the type of races we like to participate in, we begin to notice the differences between each other.

Sadly, just as in the history of our friends the ‘eaters’, sometimes we do not realize how we are drifting apart from our own friends.

Worse yet, most of the time we jump right into criticizing and arguing.

We start to form factions and take sides… And by the time we realize it, the confrontations are already going at full steam:

  • Speed demons vs. happy turtles
  • Zen vs. Theravada
  • Trail runners vs. street runners
  • Traditional vs. Non-Orthodox Meditators
  • Ultra marathoners vs. beginners
  • Dharma Fundamentalists vs. Urban Yogis
  • Distance runners vs. sprinters
  • Etc, etc, etc…

Before long we start to look a bit like this two:

Don’t you remember?

The funniest part about this whole thing is that we all forget why we started practicing together.

We forget how happy we were to find out that we weren’t the only crazy people willing to sacrifice hours of sleep and weekends to enjoy running.

We forget how good it feels to have the support and advice of other meditators more experienced than us.

We forget that special joy we feel when we can celebrate each goal and each kilometer with those who share the same feelings.

Vive la differénce!

After many kilometers and years I have realized that what I enjoy the most is long distance running. My motivation is to go far, without giving much thought to how long it takes me to cover the distance or how much I have to train to achieve it.

I like long-term goals, achieved through a constant and disciplined effort.

But that’s my personal taste, something I particularly enjoy and share with a few other runners and meditators.

Despite this, from time to time I like to practice with those who have different tastes and goals since, precisely because of our very different ways of running or meditating, they have helped me more than once to get out of my ‘comfort zone’ , forcing me not to get stuck and keep moving forward.

What if instead of letting our differences tear us apart, we decided to share them and maybe even learn from each other?

After all, what’s most important is not the kilometers, the ‘buttock hours’ on the meditation cushion, the type of race, the philosophical school or the pace times.

We are all here because we share the same passion.

Why not be happy and celebrate the fact that we are not traveling this road alone?

Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.

Elbert Hubbard

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