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Photo by Andrew Pons on Unsplash

Who Knew Claps Could Make Me Woke

ome on already. I can’t think with all the noise. I’m trying to read and figure out my claps, but the Buddhist temple across the street has been chanting for 24 hours straight. Shouldn’t we have world peace by now? I’ve lost one of my ear plugs so I can’t drown them out. Please, guys, give it a rest. I’ll stop eating meat if you’ll take a break, okay?

Now they’ve started drumming so something must be seriously amiss. Maybe, my kind, gentle neighbors are losing their last collective nerve. They’re petitioning the Universe to send me a message so I’ll finally get right with my claps.

I can only think it’s my deranged way of clapping that’s got them going. We’ve been across the street neighbors for over a quarter of a century, and they’ve been quiet until now. But I think they’ve finally noticed the judgment I bring to my process. And we know what Buddhists think of judging. Yeah, they’re definitely not down with it, and they’re letting me know it.

They got me started thinking, though. I got through an 11-minute article this morning. That’s a serious commitment to read. It’s not like I have nothing better to do. I stayed to the end, so beaucoup read ratio for the writer.

But then I saw the guy had 32k claps for this article. Are you kidding me? Who gets 32k claps? Why does he even bother to promote the thing anymore? He’s showing off if you ask me. I’m not clapping for some jerkwad’s ego.

So what if he’s top in his field. Got a Ph.D. and heads a department at an Ivy League school. Shouldn’t that be enough props for him? Why does he need my claps? I haven’t had 32k claps in my entire Medium career. Don’t come crying to me for claps. Ask your big shot buddies at the awards dinners you all attend if you want claps. I bet they have claps to spare.

So I moved on to another piece. This woman wrote about her charity work for an organization that helps kids in need. Her writing was so good I wanted to sign up for the organization myself. I was sure I had a few hours a week to spare for some volunteer work. So I checked out the woman’s profile and what the frig?

She had a big book deal and a TV documentary. All I have is a book on Kindle that’s so far down in the ratings it’s popping its head up in China. What does she want from me? More claps so she can puff up her profile? Go on Instagram and boast about her influencer status? Suck canal water I said to myself. I’m not clapping for that, so on to the next story, if only to drown out the incessant chanting.

I clicked on a writer who got under my skin. I saw she wrote articles about how to get curated, how to make more money every month, how to get more views. Oh, I know, she says it’s because she wants to give back, but I bet it’s her way of telling everyone how great her life is, how everything she touches turns to gold. Like I have time to write every day or share on social media like she does. She must have nothing better to do with her time while I have a life, you know? I can’t be bothered with that stuff. If she’s so popular, she doesn’t need my claps.

Time for a break from reading, time to write. But nothing came to mind. The chanting was interrupting my train of thought, so I got up from my desk to close the window and drown it out. It’s funny how you can look at something for years and years and not really see it. I wondered what those folks were honoring with their devotions, the prayers and songs.

I copied the name on their storefront into my browser and their website popped up. Turns out they posted a schedule of their monthly events and this weekend was their annual tribute to their ancestors. The site had an open invitation to attend their ceremonies. I could join them if I wished. A donation of $10 was suggested unless it presented a hardship.

What an eyeopener. My city has another meditation center across town in a very elegant building. Famous people attend events that get a lot of publicity. Classes and lectures cost hundreds of dollars. All for a good cause, of course. What a difference between the two meditation centers.

I’ve never seen a celebrity enter the modest bookstore run by my neighbors, who may or may not be praying for me. The cost of the center across town, run by white people, devout I’m sure, prohibited me from signing up a few months ago, but I’d be welcome in the Asian center across the street for a fee I can manage.

That dichotomy gave me pause. Of course, I doubted the chanters had me in mind as they prayed. First off, I’m not related to their ancestors, but perhaps they did have a message for me after all. It traveled across our busy street, made its way through the air pollution, and seeped under my window. Sent by people taking a few hours out of their busy lives to honor those from whom they’d no doubt learned much. If only the prayers they offered up today, for the peace and gratitude they shared.

I finally got it. It took a long time to work its way into my dense noggin. I opened my laptop and found the three articles. The 32k deserved a few claps, of course it did, as did the piece by the woman who gave of herself for the suffering children. And if I’m too lazy to take the advice of someone willing to help me, the least I can do is repay her time with applause.

I seea lot of discussions here on Medium about what a clap is worth. How many we should leave for an article or should we leave any at all. But I just learned that sometimes a clap serves a dual purpose. It rewards the writer but teaches the clappee a lesson, about volunteerism, promotion, to be sure. But if you’re paying attention, when you need it most, it can also send a message about humility, gratitude, and paying back.

Just in case you’re curious about my other Medium lessons, have a look.

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Writer, editor, researcher, aging expert, life coach, sand tray coach. Read one of my 55 titles on Amazon:

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