So this morning, I had a little wake-up call.
Little, in that I'm still here writing this to you 🤗.
Wake-Up, in the sense that we often (always?) take for granted our very existence.
So what, exactly, happened? Well, I was up early in the morning as is my norm, sitting out on the deck of our cottage. Usually doing a sitting meditation, or listening to a dharma talk. Today I was listening to a podcast, and was captivated by the beauty of the morning. I wanted to capture it -- take a picture or a movie (like above) to try to show what I was seeing, and help me remember it.
At one point I decided to walk down to our dock to photograph the early morning fog sweeping along the glassy surface of the pond. We have some funky stairs (tilted on angle) that need to be replaced, and we had just finished 24 hours of pretty hard rain. So the steps, while water-free, were much more slick than they appeared to be, and then Whoosh, my feet slid out from under me.
Have you ever felt time slow down? As I crashed to the ground, I waited to find out where the pain would arrive. Fortunately for me, my butt and shoulder took the brunt of the fall along the edges of the steps (and not my head). I had survived, thanks to nothing but dumb luck.
I could even perceive two alternate futures emerge from that slip. The one that's writing this blog post, and the one that remained unconscious (or worse) on the steps until Carol arose and started to wonder where the heck I was. Wouldn't that have been a different life trajectory?
One moment here, blissfully enjoying the scenery,
And then ... Wham ... lights out (for a while or forever).
I'm not trying to be overly dramatic. That's not the point of this story. But just take a moment to realize, we are all one incident away from a life-altering or life-ending trajectory. That is the very nature of our existence.
Now that may sound Bad to most people, but it's really Not. Not good or bad. It just is.
So what should you take away from this story, if that is true? Just this:
Your life is a very precious gift. The odds of You being here right now are extraordinarily slim. Savor that good fortune. Don't waste a minute of your precious life on anger or hatred or self-recrimination. Indeed, Wake Up to the unfathomability of your life just as it is, right here, right now. With all its "apparent" lack of perceived perfection, lack of financial security, lack of fulfillment or meaning.
You're just looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Turn it around and see the magnificence in every ordinary thing around you, and then let yourself blur the apparent boundaries of what you sense, and realize you are very much a part of that as well.
Not you and the other and the 10,000 things. But just this ... right now ... right here. And that includes everything and nothing, or no thing. It's a conundrum only when you view the world as if from the homunculus in your head. Like those magic eye pictures, you don't easily see the 3D image because of how you have been conditioned to look.
Drop your focus and look through the image. Stop trying to analyze everything, control everything, plan everything. Go with the flow sounds pretty trite, but it is also pretty accurate. That is what life is ... the flow of the universe itself. An infinite set of processes continually interacting with each other. And thou art that.
Get out in Nature, as living objects may make this easier to recognize, or re-cognize. But you can do it anywhere. Everything you think of as a thing is more amazing than you can possibly fathom.
So just appreciate the unfathomability of life, and try to drop another construct of your mind. You do not have a permanent self. You are really not who ... you ... think you are. Really -- just like that chair. But even more, much more, than that.
The construct that needs to be de-constructed is that you are here, reading this post (BTW, congrats that you've made it this far 🥳), and the rest of the world is out there. That's just not how life, the universe, and existence itself work. That may be how they appear to work, but it simply isn't so.
Like the late David Foster Wallace observed in his classic commencement speech**:
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”This is all about being open to and aware of Life, and realizing how little we truly know and how much we are conditioned in this world (by our DNA, our upbringing, society, culture, etc.)
* Or look it up if you like -- here's a 3-minute listen: Why Your Butt Doesn't Fall Through The Chair.
** I think this video adaptation is awesome: This is Water, by David Foster Wallace
Epilog: So you may be familiar with the way we can get somewhat attached, maybe dependent, perhaps even addicted to our portable electronic devices (e.g., smart phones and watches). One might even say that they have come to feel like a bionic extension of one's self.
Well then, I guess I've taken one small step at putting a crack into my conceptual self. Here is the one (and thankfully only) real casualty (beyond some scrapes and bruises) from my wake-up call today, not noticed until well after the event (when I went to check the weather forecast):
|Shattered image of myself, er, my Apple Watch|
And isn't it interesting that my body will self-repair with only healthy food, gentle movement, and adequate rest, but my watch is now kaput, and destined for Apple's recycling center. That's also an interesting "life" lesson.