Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Driving in the car today, my daughter piped up from the back, "It's a beautiful day today, isn't it?" And I wasn't quite sure if she was serious. She hasn't yet mastered the art or subtlety of sarcasm, hyperbole, or facetiousness; thus, she tends to be a pretty sincere communicator. So I sort of already knew the answer but still asked, "You really think it's pretty today?"

"Yes," she said emphatically. "There are so many colors and trees. I like the houses and all the flowers. They look so pretty." And, for the umpteenth time since her birth my very own little Buddha offered a new nugget of wisdom in her usual disarming way.

All I had seen was the rain; all I had felt was the rush of squeezing in yet another chore before naptime and worrying about the lack of water or juice for the longish ride home. My worldview consisted of the cold, the grey, the damp, the rush, the stressed out, the mud and wet and messysplatteredsplashyhurrying.

It was not until she described her view that I saw the bright yellow buds lining the road and the multicolored tulips standing at attention to eagerly drink up the day's light spring shower. I noticed how all the grass had turned bright green and how beautiful the stately red brick of neighborhood historic homes looked when contrasted against the slate blue sky.

Sometimes it is easy to forget how much control I have over my experience. How one small adjustment in my thinking or perception can significantly alter my entire worldview... rippling through emotions, physical sensations, and all manner of head-locked living to create a new space from which to see the world.

Unfortunately, as soon as I put her down for her nap, I went right back into my stressed-out, travel-readying, pre-worrying mindset. And just as I began typing this entry, I noted a choking weight of tension across my shoulders and neck... and a nasty little twinge in the center of my back.

Lost as easily as it was gained. There's a lesson right there.

Thich Nhat Hanh, one of my favorite Buddhists, said: "People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle."

Tension is the result of ignoring those miracles. It's akin to burying our heads in the dirt and letting elements of beauty, hope, comfort, or inspiration - abundant and ever-present in multiple areas of our lives - remain consciously unnoticed. And it is a miracle to remember to be present and open to such amazement and awe... to see the yellow buds of trees instead of the oppressive cold of rain.

Possessing that sort of mindset - the one that finds happiness and refuses to cultivate worry - is a form of enlightenment. When we see it in young children, I think we are more apt to call it innocence. But it's no less miraculous stamped with a different label; it's still Buddha-nature just the same.

May you notice something beautiful today. May your tension leave as easily as it entered.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, lord, do I know tension.
    I forget to breathe sometimes.

    I have a feeling getting pregnant and having a child just to hear their little reminders of life's beauty (when they finally learned to talk) would be a little counterintuitive, but I'll keep my eyes open for those miracles all the same.