We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

18 October 2006

a jewel for your pocket

Another beautiful autumn day, fresh and comfortably warm. Things are changing outside and inside. I hate to use the rollercoaster as life metaphor, but I have been thinking about it alot lately. In the two years that we've been back here, there have been a lot of drastic ups and downs. Just as a rollercoaster creeps and jerks its way slowly up to the top, this past year has felt that way, creeping, jarring, anticipating. Then there's the exhilaration and sometimes terror of the fast rush down from the top (as when life appears to be going well), when the momentum keeps the ride going around the curves and minor ups and downs, until it slows to the next great upward climb (more obstacles to overcome). I haven't enjoyed this up and down that much, and frankly it hasn't felt that 'up', but I know that I can't get off until I reach nirvana.

So, speaking outside of metaphor, we are going through a gradual change, my husband, it seems, is approaching a new career path (can't speak on it yet) and with this comes other peripheral changes. My optimism has often led to impulsiveness, and this I have now learned the hard way. The optimism is not always realistic or practical. I have been reading Thich Nhat Hanh (a vietnamese buddhist monk & enlightened teacher) to my son, about learning to practice meditation and mindfulness.

Thich Nhat Hanh relates a story the Buddha told, about a rich man and his son. The father is worried about what will happen to his son when he dies, as his son has not acquired any life skills, and spends carelessly. The father has a coat made for himself and wears it often. He tells his son that when he dies, if the son chooses to sell all the possessions (which he is afraid he will do), to please keep this coat and wear it. The son agrees to keep the coat and when the old man dies, the son does just as his father feared, and squanders all the riches until he is left homeless. All he is left with is the coat. After years of moving from place to place, homeless, he discovers in the lining of the coat, a precious jewel. He realises then, that all that time he was living in poverty, he really was rich. But of course, he has now learned a valuable lesson. He buys a house and starts a business where he earns his living and shares his wealth, because now he realises the importance of it all.

As I write, my daughter is trying to grab the rainbows reflected in the room from the faceted crystal hanging in the window. And so if I just concentrate on my blessings, the age old 'count your blessings', I really do feel better. I am happy in the present moment, and that creates a feeling of bliss. It may be short lived, until the next intrusive thought comes barging along, but that's the point of mindfulness, just keep returning to the present moment. This is what I would like my son to learn. Children are naturally in the moment, but slowly that starts to cloud over and they become just like the confused adults around them.

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