By Holly Herring
I was a little bit late to the game when it came to getting my nails done at a salon.
But, a good friend and I talked about it once and I decided I would give it a try. I was hooked after my first visit.
Now, I was a beginner at salon nails and I didn’t understand all the terms of nail shapes, the color process, etc. So, I was really stumbling through explaining to the nail artist what I wanted. There were some really big mishaps.
One day, I walked into the salon and sat down. There was a Shakyamuni Buddha meditating behind her on a small table (he wasn’t real—he was a statue). But, I watched him as the artist gathered her tools. She asked me what I wanted my nails to look like and I set out describing every detail of what I envisioned.
I watched her moves with the tools on my fingers and saw as she tried to make real what I had described. I gave her course corrections along the way, but it just wasn’t working. Shakyamuni Buddha sat watching in his silent meditation from his table. The finished product was not at all what I had wanted.
I spent several visits trying to communicate what I wanted without knowing the terms for different nail styles.
It was very disappointing and Shakyamuni Buddha watched the whole thing take place in silence. I was frustrated.
One day when I walked into the nail salon it was very busy. I sat in my seat and waited. When there was a space for me, a young nail artist approached me and asked me to follow her to a seat so she could begin. She explained to me that she had just gotten this job after finishing school. “Oh no”, I thought to myself. But, I sat in the seat and held my hands out signaling her to begin.
On this nail artist’s table, there was a Budai figurine. Often Budai is referred to as Maitreya, although the two are not necessarily the same being. Budhai is the “Laughing Buddha” image often seen in restaurants or salons. According to my Ch’an Buddhism upbringing, Budai had been a monk and he very well could become a future Buddha. He is reported to have carried a bag of candy and toys around for children, enjoyed food and drink, and he embodied love and happiness.
As I sat considering the Budai figure, I heard my nail artist ask me what I wanted done with my nails. I began explaining and she listened intently. When I finished, she grinned and asked “You want sparkles?” I had not mentioned sparkles in any of my details. I glanced at Budai and I thought I saw him flash a smile at me. I gathered up some courage and replied “yes.”
I had no idea why I had just given in and let her put “sparkles” on my nails. I think I was influenced by that happy Budai behind her. It was almost as if he had slipped a little bit of happiness out of his plaster sack and tossed me some. my nails looked beautiful and yet were nothing at all like I described. Budai, did you just trick me with your smile and happiness blessing? If you did, I thank you.
The next time I went to the nail salon, I looked around to see if the young artist I had previously seen was there.
I noticed she was and she noticed me back. She came up to me and with a big smile she said “Welcome back! Can I do your nails again?” I was happy to let her work some more nail magic on me.
She asked me what I wanted done with my nails. I began describing what I wanted this time, but something caught my eye—it was the Budai figurine. I swear I saw him toss something towards me from his bag of goodies again and there was a twinkle in his smile. I looked back at my artist and as I resumed my sentence, I stopped. She looked at me again with that childish grin and asked, “You want ombre?”
Yes! Yes! Yes! I did want ombre! I had no idea what that was, but as it exited her lips I was happy to try it.
My nails came out beautifully, again, and now I understood what “ombre” was. My visits to the nail salon began to change. I had ideas about colors, sure, but I let go and welcomed inspiration from my artist and from Budai. My visits to the salon became fun and I enjoyed the happiness blessings that Budai tossed to me from his bag.
If the future Buddha is Budai, I would welcome that. I think he might bring my nail artist with him and she could add some sparkles to the world. You never know, you might really find that beautiful.
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