Lessons from Walnuts

Some days my practice seems perfect, just right.  I’m filled with love and compassion, patience for life’s inanities and generosity towards pretty much everything.  My life makes sense, I make sense, I observe and accept and everything is beautiful.  Even the ugly is beautiful.

And then something goes wrong.

I have to go to Target and I’m inundated by aisles and aisles of disposable plastic, en route to a landfill.  Or I eat too much or not what I wanted or what I made is not quite how I imagined it – in terms of its cosmic place in my day.  Or I’m slapped in the face by some trivial but nonetheless universe-diminishing inconsideration – a man in his 20s rushing to take the last seat on the bus when there are two elderly women behind him, a car cutting off a bike, some people visiting in a narrow aisle of the coop with carts and all and not even budging when others try to restock on walnuts.

Image by P.J.L. Laurens

And then it’s gone.  The wavelength of peace, wisdom, interconnectedness that I’d caught is gone and I can’t even remember how it felt.  I’m annoyed and irritated.  My compassion and patience evaporate.  Because this irritating moment is just not deserving of that exalted beautiful full-of-wisdom point of view.  I notice hardness welling up and all my noble intentions are gone.  Now it’s an ugly day and I no longer have any love for it.  This moment is just to be hated.  I wish I too could cut someone off.  And sometimes I do.  It’s so not what I’m capable of, what I’m all about.  And I’m so irritated with myself that all it took was something trivial and impersonal.

And then reluctantly I remember that this here messiness and thoughtlessness of the world – my own reflexive thoughtlessness – is what it is now.  I very rarely can truly embrace these ugly moments but more and more I can acknowledge them and at least grudgingly offer them some standing – intellectually at least.  This is the realization I come to over and over again – that my practice can’t be dependent on the beautiful special magical moments, that it can’t be an oasis carved out of my life.  It has to be my life.

I also know that I need enough beautiful moments to recharge, to fill my reservoir of lovingkindness.  This is important to me.  So if you are in the coop, please do not block the walnuts.  I need them to recharge my soul.

(Image by P.J.L. Laurens)

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One comment on “Lessons from Walnuts
  1. Ed Vogel says:

    Thanks much for writing about acknowledgement. I had a very difficult situation with being “shunned” at a previous job. Fortunately there was lots of factory floor to “walk it off” after the inevitable daily “situations.” Walking, acknowledging, wishing no harm and paying attention to the reaction in my body turned out to be very helpful in deepening my practice.

    Unfortunately it has not translated well into my next job (no factory floor). I actually miss those jerks;-)