If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
Mary Oliver, Don’t Hesitate from Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
To be interested in the changing seasons
is a happier state of mind
than to be hopelessly in love with spring.
The problem is not necessarily working hard, the problem is working so hard and long without rest that we begin to imagine that we’re the ones making everything happen. We begin to feel a growing, gnawing sense of responsibility and grandiosity about how important our work is and how we can’t stop because everything is on our shoulders. We forget that forces much larger than we are, in fact, do most of the work.
Wayne Muller, A Time of Sacred Rest
Went for a long walk yesterday and while out it started to gently rain, that soft rain which is very characteristic of Ireland.
I don’t know
why I’m walking out here
with my coat darkening
and my boots sinking in, coming up
with a mild sucking sound
I like to hear. I don’t care
where those girls are now.
Whatever they’ve made of it
they can have. Today I want
to resolve nothing.
I only want to walk
a little longer in the cold
blessing of the rain,
and lift my face to it.
Kim Addonizio, New Year’s Day, with thanks to David Kanigan’s blog, Thrive
The present is truly the only place we exist. What we call the past is a construct of memory, the recollection of which constitutes a present experience. According to author Alan Watts, the future is likewise a construct, “and cannot become a part of experienced reality until it is present.” So, to know happiness in the future, we must be happy now. Delaying enjoyment of your life is to always live in Christmas Eve, with the many gifts around you staying securely wrapped. Moreover, to participate in the moment — to be fully aware, is to be unified with the experience, and free from the separating identity of being the experiencer.
[Watts:] “To understand music, you must listen to it. But so long as you are thinking, ‘I am listening to this music,’ you are not listening. To understand joy or fear, you must be wholly and undividedly aware of it. So long as you are calling it names and saying, ‘I am happy,’ or ‘I am afraid’, you are not being aware of it. This is not a psychological or spiritual discipline for self-improvement, It is simply being aware of this present experience, and realizing that you can neither define it nor divide yourself from it. There is no rule but ‘Look!’
Tom Maxwell, No Rush, No Dawdle: The Secret Of Proper Timing
Normally when we are taken by surprise, there is a sudden narrowing of our visual periphery that exacerbates the fight or flight response… But in the Japanese self-defense art of aikido, this visual narrowing is countered by a practice called “soft eyes”, in which one learns to widen one’s periphery, to take in more of the world. If you train a person to practice soft eyes, then introduce that same sudden stimulus, the reflex is often transcended. This person will turn toward the stimulus, take it in, and then make a more authentic response — such as thinking a new thought.
Soft eyes, it seems to me, is an evocative image for what happens when we gaze on sacred reality. Now our eyes are open and receptive, able to take in the greatness of the world and the grace of great things. Eyes wide with wonder, we no longer need to resist or run when taken by surprise. Now we can open ourselves to the great mystery.
Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach