You can learn a lot from a wandering mystic with a cane and no destination. Since sharing time and space with a young yogi who comes from nowhere in particular and is going to that same place my learning curve is getting sharper.
The night is beginning to wrap orange and crimson leafed trees outside the library in shadow, the big rocks in a sacred circle shiver and the last light, that last great bolt from a tired sun leaves a warm swath across my eyes before vanishing. Squint-small breathes, heart smiles, thankfulness tickles, a whisper, “You’re really here.”
Sometimes I can’t believe I get to live here on this planet in this life.
Today the grass was dry in the sunny spots but moist enough just near the trail to be shared with delicate, lace like moss as fragile as if stitched and left– soft beds for flower fairies to lay their weary heads. That’s the story I’ve told my children and grandchildren about moss since I first thought it as a little girl. Believing in fairies and angels, guardians of forests, trees with a sort of heart beat and rocks as living or at least supporting life in so many ways is the work of most children and me–I’m still on the job. We don’t want shoes because it blocks us from the soil which we know is part of us–the blood and bone of what connects us. Children feel the world as their own–they feel each other this way also. Adults can too on any day we wish.
We are making believe that we are too busy to notice, that our work is too important to forget long enough to cherish and see the world outside of our heads. But that’s just grown up story telling and dress up. So much of it doesn’t matter. We, any of us, can take our shoes off and play until we nap in a warm spot outside. We can be stopped in our frantic half run and feel our breath catch at the site of a beautiful lady bug cleaning her feet or a flock of geese flying in formation. Sometimes we can begin to look at another person in the check out and see every wrinkle and scar and become, for a time, enchanted.
When we dream we fly and swim, we are here and there without time or constraint because this is us as well–back to dancing with fairies and falling in love with the cricket who stole our attention and heart by the garden.
And under all that magic and connection is that presence that is so palpable you can not quite ever forget it–it’s a solidity to you–an ever present warmth–a voice which whispers in your heart, “It really will be okay.” It urges you back to the garden and the fairies and the rope swing and the days where the time is measured by the sun, moon and coolness of air. That, all that loveliness that gets you getting up, breathing in and stopping thought and movement even for a second–that which makes you wishful thinking of the summer you climbed the water tower to the top–that big deal has a name and it is Stillness.
Clanking away on the laptop, guzzling my coffee, I looked up. There my young friend stood. He had a soft smile and a hint of resignation. Another day gone. I would work, he would work. Nothing new would arise except whatever we could experience through mostly virtual worlds.
Then Stillness. I closed the laptop. We went for a short hike. Few words spoken. Breeze, trees, dirt, rocks, dampness, cloud formations, stillness building more stillness. Just like that.
He learned his shoes needed greater tread if he is to accomplish his plan of walking 600 km this winter on one leg and a prosthetic. He learned he goes more slowly than he remembered and he learned that it felt like life to be there. I watched him ahead of me, walking stick by his side, careful steps in places with rocks and roots, traversing down hills, getting there and at a good clip. I also watched him stop, breathe, notice, smile, love. He is in love with the world and life anyway, but stillness seems to speak to him. He is often occupied by it.
It is happening in me too spontaneously. Stillness, calm, quiet, joy, intuition and all the accompanying loves and lives are showing up on their own. I’m rigging the game–offering time for it and space to sit with me. That seems to be all that’s needed.
After hearing my dear friend, whom I’ll call “Becky” because that’s not her, talk about the years of being at the end of a rope stretched thin and dangerously frayed and watching young Judah, the accidental mystic, live in his Stillness I am compiling a possible grouping of very simple techniques to Stillness which will ultimately lead to falling in love with your life:
Drive without the radio. Let your car be silent and fall into the hum of quiet. Notice where your thoughts go.
When walking, look around, slow down. Slow your heart rate and without meaning to you’ll find yourself seeing the small things around you on your walk. Take off the ear plugs and let the world around you touch you with its real noises and environment–for better and worse.
Look at the people around you. It’s not meant to be a stare or a second of judgment but noticing that you are part of a human family, a community of people. This helps slow things down. We see the rush of others and can’t help thinking, “What’s the hurry?”
Do nothing. I don’t care how busy you may think you are, if you have time to check your cell phone, you have time to sit or stand doing absolutely nothing for five and ten minute stretches throughout the day. Just gaze and see, really see, with detail. If you have time actually stretch your body–it loves that!
Be present. This is not magical or difficult. It’s a decision. When you are with someone, be there, not thinking ahead, trying to think of what to say but instead dropping everything and listening. Watch them move and speak and hear them. You can shut off your cell phone and not die for the space of a conversation. Think of how you would feel if you spoke to someone and they stopped everything to hear you? That presence cultivates Stillness in you and spreads it to whomever you’ve been present with–including you!
We love what we know. If you want to love your life, then live in it and know it. Know the street you live on by walking it slowly with presence and Stillness, stop to say something to a neighbor or smile at that person, pet the dog who goes by, stare at the trees and rocks and plants. Look at your front door every time you walk toward it and see how it looks, how it holds you and steadies you and keeps your things in place. Love your grocery store, it’s smells and noises and light, its cashiers and customers and the abundance of food which you can think about–how it got to that store and the labor of an army of people who love other people and fed them through that labor. Love your gas station and the guy who works there, ask how he’s doing and what’s new? Over time you’ll know things about his life that will matter to you. Know the people you work with not in a work way but a personal one. Notice when they bake bread for others, bring their children to work, seem tired or buy a new pair of shoes. Every little thing wants to be seen.
As Stillness grows and you know your life, you will know you better too– until one day you notice that it takes more to make you scared or angry and that mostly you feel good. You feel in love, you hope good things for people you know and love and those you don’t.
A bird song or the feel of hot water in your hands and the smell of lavender soap will feel like a daily holiday.
Anyone can be awake. It takes some effort but like my young mystic often doesn’t say…….