09 July 2010

mindful of the moments

"There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life." 
~~Pema Chodron

::  Breathe.  We live in times where technology is both friend and foe.  I often wonder what I would do without the internet or cell phone.  How life would be different without instant (or near instant) links and connections to information or people!  I use these snappy technologies to plan trips, to connect with friends old and new, to find a recipe, to research just about anything, to send a quick note.  But this constant link to everyone and everything can be draining.  A friend I communicate with and know only through technology (and an occasional package of lemons to her home from mine) has recently made a decision to slow down her connection with technology, returning to more elemental and grounded pursuits.  I have to applaud her true grit in committing to this change.  There is indeed something to be said for infusing her days with family first, taking time to breathe in life, savoring moments in a quiet personal way.  Others are choosing to disengage completely from all technology.  Yes, certainly, there is need to separate when each day is consumed with being linked, when moments go unnoticed, when one can't breathe.

::  Listen.  When our daughter was young (she's an adult now, even though that smacks both my mind and hers with a resounding thump followed by a "wow"), we lived quite a distance from her school.  That travel time, both morning and evening, gave her a one-on-one captive audience for connecting and listening.  Whether she was traveling with Papa or Mama, great conversations (sometimes prompted by NPR, sometimes prompted by her day at school), dreams, problems, and plans were explored.  We listened to her in a way that would not have taken place had we been at home, distracted by those daily chores and routines.  Because we developed this dialogue exchange as part of our everyday family pattern, there was, and continues to be, trust and a deep bond in our relationship.  There were other, maybe more typical moments each day, each week, when we shared, like gathering at the kitchen/dining table at meal time or traveling to/from swimming meets on weekends.  Whatever the primary purpose, the best outcome was to connect, to listen, to enjoy each other.

::  Observe.  Having my camera has been my best tool for noticing details.  It has reminded me of how children observe the world, especially small children.  If one crunches down on eye level of a two year old, the view looks so different.  There's a richness, an intensity, we tend to miss as adults because we are always looking at the big picture, the horizon.  Starting when she was wee, our daughter would collect seed pods and rocks, little gifts of nature she would happen upon on walks.  The rock obsession continued well into her teen years, spotting a color, a shape, a texture, to add to her treasury.  Using the camera reminds me to stop and consider attributes of what appears to be simple everyday items and occurrences in that adult eye, to regard with a different perspective.  With a release of the shutter, a moment is seized, held captive, observed.
**  The rock collection?--some were deemed unworthy as time went on, but many remain in boxes or have found their way to my own shelves, tabletops, containers.

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