Sunday, April 3, 2016

Work as a Spiritual Practice - Or Musings on a Water Bottle

This evening I checked into the InterContinental City hotel in Doha. Let's just say that it's everything a 5 star hotel should be and it is so in large part because the staff knows exactly what they need to do and they do it with consummate skill.

In the restaurant this evening the waiter demonstrated the perfect balance between being there the moment I wanted something and not hovering. He would just sort of materialize in front of me the moment the thought entered my mind that I wanted something. Then he would disappear again a moment later.
Since every blog post is supposed to include photos I've added one of my very comfortable room at the hotel
At one point I asked for some water. He vanished, then materialized again with a small bottle of water which he set on my place mat. It was a simple, natural gesture on his part, seemingly and perhaps actually, unconscious. As he placed the bottle on the table, he turned it so that the decorative part of the label faced me and the bit with all the random details was facing away. The water was bottled especially for the InterContinental and had their custom label on it. That is what I saw when I looked up and reached for it... NOT the random fine print on the back.

This little gesture on his part, and his service overall, was an example of someone who was immersed in doing his job with absolute skill. The only way to perform consistently like that is to be completely "in the moment", to be completely present "in the now". He was so attuned to his environment that he was able to pick up on the signals and changes instantly. And his own responses had the practiced skill that rendered them unconsciously correct. He just did the right thing without thinking about it.
and here's a view out my window

I've experienced this myself a few times in my life, most intensely when playing chamber music. It is impossible to play Mozart well without being completely present in the moment. The seemingly simple perfection of his music demands the balance of a tightrope walker. Let the attention wander for an instant and a great abyss opens up below.

This intensity of being present, existing "in the NOW", is described by mystics of all spiritual traditions as a prerequisite or basic practice. Self-transformation seems to depend on it.

It can reveal itself in the simple act of placing a bottle of water on a table.

Isn't life marvelous?

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful, thoughtful and well-written post.

    PS. Enjoy those 5 stars, may there be many more in your future.