There was an older man named Alejandro, who lived down the road from the Abbott’s monastery. He loved playing music from Mexico and the land of the Incas and played it night and day. He was hard of hearing so he had to play the music as loudly as he could, so he could hear his own voice and accompanying drum. Sometimes, he would drum and sing until he fell asleep just as the sun rose.
A number of the nuns were upset with Alejandro and complained to Abbott Tova about his annoying, and off-key voice and drumming, keeping them awake night after night.
The good Abbott knew that Alejandro pined for his childhood sweetheart, whom he’d married and lived with for sixty years. She wasn’t about to ask him to stop, but also understood how difficult it could be to sleep when his voice and instrument’s sounds traveled through the night air and seeped through one’s pores like slow torture.
“Please, do something,” one of the senior nun’s, Sam, implored Abbott Tova.
“I cannot ask him to stop, nor will I,” the Abbott replied.
“Then many of the nuns will fall asleep during practice and miss their chance for enlightenment,” Sister Sam retorted.
“If they are not able to awaken during sleep, then I have taught them nothing.”
“Many of the chores will not be done if they are sleeping during the day,” Sister Sam continued. “The garden will not be planted. The meals will not be prepared and the floors will not be swept.”
“So what? We’ll starve and live in filth, is so what.”
“You are only seeing two alternatives Sister Sam. Telling Alejandro that he can no longer sing for his lost love and find what little comfort it gives him, or letting him sing and our community goes to ruin.”
“I don’t see any other way,” Sister Sam surmised.
“Then you are caught in Limited Mind and must have slept badly. There is always another way.” Abbott Tova went to her chest and began rummaging around and throwing out one item after another. “Ah, here they are,” she said, and handed a bag to Sister Sam.
Sister Sam opened the bag, picked up a small wax ball and said, “What in the Goddesses name are these?”
“Are you blind, as well as sleep-deprived?” the Abbott laughed. “They’re earplugs.” Abbott Tova took a pair from the bag and placed them in her ears. “I’ve been wearing them for years and sleep like a baby. Hand them out to the nuns and there will be no more problems.”
“Oye veh!” Sister Sam exclaimed. “Why didn’t I think of this?”
“What?” Abbott Tova said, as she began replacing the items she’d removed from her chest.
“I said, I should have thought of this!”
“What? Speak up.”
“I said . . . oh it’s nothing.”
Sister Sam bowed three times, turned around counter-clockwise twice, and left with the bag of earplugs, amazed as always at the wisdom and compassion of the great Abbott.
More deaf-defying stories at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.