Practicing the Everyday

Just in case it isn’t obvious, one of the reasons I’m writing this blog is to share my practice of being present in everyday life.  Like most of us, I’ve spent many years not exactly in this mode – in fact, pretty far from it, except perhaps when I was spending relaxed time with our children when they (& we) were young.

Lucky for me, I have more time now to be able to try to pay attention, to go more deeply into aspects of our everyday lives, & to share some things I’ve loved learning about our old earth and the short life we each have on it.  And I’m incredibly thankful to have a grandchild to help me with this.

Living with the understanding that we humans (for better or worse) are not much more than thinking & walking primates – and, amazingly, genetically connected all life on earth – has been immensely helpful in my ability to feel grounded on this planet.  My life, similar to the lives of many of us, has yielded unfathomable sadness and also tremendous joy.  This is not karma.  This is not what I deserve or don’t deserve.  Life just happens, & the randomness of evolution has meant that as a human primate, I (generally speaking) have more awareness of this life than other creatures.  This is a blessing and a curse…as the saying goes.

I’m not into religiosity.  But among many humans who have been helpful for me on this path, I feel deep appreciation for Pema Chödrön.  Even though she’s a Buddhist, I’ve found her wisdom to be right on target with my world view.  My favorite book of hers is Comfortable With Uncertainty, which I like much more that When Things Fall Apart, even though the later is more well known.

Here’s a quote from the former, in the reading “The Heart of Everyday Life”:

“Bodhichitta [the awakened heart of loving-kindness and compassion] is available in moments of caring for things, when we clean our glasses or brush our hair.  It’s available in moments of appreciation, when we notice the blue sky or pause and listen to the rain.  It’s available in moments of gratitude, when we recall a kindness or recognize another person’s courage.  It’s available in music and dance, in art, and in poetry.  Whenever we let go of holding on to ourselves and look at the world around us, whenever we connect with sorrow, whenever we connect with joy, whenever we drop our resentment and complaint, in those moments bodhichitta is here.”

In spite of it all, I’m thankful to be a human primate.

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5 Responses to Practicing the Everyday

  1. markhalfmoon says:

    Reading this, you remind me of the sudden appearence of my two and a half year old granddaughter in my everyday life. Her parents now work the same shift, so I pick her up in Oakland on Monday and return her on Friday.

    Being with her has caused me to stop and reflect a lot more. I always have to be present in the moment. I share with her the discovery of mundane things as if they were new. I remember my grandparents and memories return that I’ve forgotten since childhood.

    I feel important teaching tooth brushing, hand washing, potty going, and names of things. I am exhausted when she goes home, but I can’t help but smile when I picture walking with her hand in hand.

    • liveoaklinda says:

      Being a grand-parent is definitely underrated in so many ways. Sounds like you’re doing a little bit of both with your granddaughter, Mark – what a loving gift to your family.

  2. Chris says:

    To think of Pema Chodron as a primate makes me realize how much man has evolved and how great is our potential for even more change.

  3. Nancy says:

    Your comment about having more awareness of this life than other creatures reminded me of a poem by John O’Donohue which suggests that we have a lot to learn from other creatures because although we have the potential of ‘having more awareness’ we don’t always use it… in fact most people tend to use it far less than some animals. I always feel humbled when I read this:

    To Learn From Animal Being

    Nearer to the earth’s heart,
    Deeper within its silence:
    Animals know this world
    In a way we never will. We who are ever
    Distanced and distracted
    By the parade of bright
    Windows thought opens:
    Their seamless presence
    Is not fractured thus.

    Stranded between time
    Gone and time emerging,
    We manage seldom
    To be where we are:
    Whereas they are always
    Looking out from
    The here and now.

    May we learn to return
    And rest in the beauty 
    Of animal being,
    Learn to lean low,
    Leave our locked minds,
    And with freed senses
    Feel the earth 
    Breathing with us.

    May we enter
    Into lightness of spirit,
    And slip frequently into
    The feel of the wild.

    Let the clear silence
    Of our animal being
    Cleanse our hearts
    Of corrosive words.

    May we learn to walk
    Upon the earth
    With all their confidence
    And clear-eyed stillness

    So that our minds
    Might be baptized
    In the name of the wind
    And the light and the rain

    • liveoaklinda says:

      Thank you Nancy – a lovely poem. To me, Awareness doesn’t mean Better Off. It is what it is – sometimes helpful & sometimes not. I’m a little wary of idealizing any creature – non-human or human – but I like the idea of trying to leave our ‘locked minds’ behind for a while.

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