Have you ever thought about what an incredible invention language is? Language was invented as a way to communicate, to bridge the space between people. We sculpt sound to make the invisible world visible. Perhaps one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking aspects of the human condition is that we can spend a lifetime with someone, but we will never be able to experience their world from their perspective. So we develop language for others to see a piece of us, to bring another into union with ourselves.
It’s far from a perfect system and as language has evolved it sometimes becomes thin and only skims the surface of what we wish to convey.
But when we dig a little deeper, we find words contain worlds within themselves, rich with meaning.
We typically think of the word “amateur” as inexperienced or unskilled and by extension it’s often used negatively. “Oh, I’m just an amateur ______ .” Did you know amateur actually stems from the Latin word “amare” which means “to love”? Why then would we be ashamed to be an amateur at anything? To love is the root of all of life. We instinctively know this as children. We learn through that which we love. As children, we learn at a rate unparalleled in our adult life. To be inexperienced at something gives you a tabula rasa - a blank slate. In Zen Buddhism, they call this beginner’s mind “shoshin.” It’s characterized by openness, eagerness, a lack of preconceptions. A way to look at something with fresh eyes.
By comparison, “mastery” is defined as superiority or victory.” Mastery implies that there is nothing left to be learned, which is dangerous. When we think we have mastered something, we get comfortable and stop looking to learn. Habits become harder to break or even see. In mastery, we become vulnerable to running on autopilot. But when we bring shoshin to any circumstance, we are more flexible, open to more possibilities, and frankly feel more alive. Mindfulness is bringing this beginner’s mind to all we do, even in what we think we are masters of.