Winter is often a time of deep reflection. A time to evaluate. I looked at last year’s posting on the blog and found nothing for December. What was going on? So I found myself turning through the pages of last year’s journal entries looking for clues. What I wrote in December was about my desire for clarity and solace. I was trying to establish some kind of title for myself, some kind of box I could comfortably fit myself in, some kind of identity. Was I a chef? Was I a farmer? Was a dairywoman? The lines were all blurry. I was in a state of discomfort. I was trying to reconcile my past with the present. Trying to see a future by letting go of the past. I worked hard on this and used up many pages in my journal. I recognized my biggest struggle and challenge was forgiving myself of my shortcomings and as ridiculous as this sounded at the time, loving myself.
Uncertainty is frightening. I have had to really work hard at getting outside my ridged ideas of how things are supposed to be. This has been an ongoing struggle from a restaurateur and chef where life is fairly predictable to a farmer where expecting predictability is a joke onto oneself. I didn’t realize how uptight I really was. But when faced with the daily life of farming I was constantly struggling. I thought I was struggling with the wind, the rain, the heat, the dry. I was only struggling with myself. None of those things were doing anything wrong.
This morning I was listening to the big dogs bark. The morning was so quiet and still all I could hear was the bark and the echoes. Do the dogs hear the echoes? Do they think there is another dog barking back? There is no way to really know for sure but I doubt it. I recognized that echoes also happen in the human mind. Someone speaks to us and immediately what we hear are not just the words but the echoes which is essentially our brain translating it into judgment. Shame, anger, sadness, insult, pride, happiness. But it’s nothing more than an echo, and we believe the echoes are real and base how we act in the world by them. But echoes are not real, our judgmental imaging is not real. Mindful or deep listening is hearing that persons words without listening to the echo. Imagine that! I have no idea of what that would even be like but something tells me there would be much less anxiety and suffering in the world.
When I was a baby I wasn’t hearing echoes, just sounds, the way they really were, without judgment, when words didn’t automatically come with emotions. My true nature was vulnerable, innocent, pure, non-violent. That baby is still inside of me. That baby grew but did not disappear. When I die, if I am fortunate enough to grow old I hope I die that baby. I hope I can become that baby again, ready to reach out and experience things as they truly are. With this I recognize that my greatest enemy was a baby exactly as pure and innocent as me, how could I ever hate or be angry at a baby? This is what they talk about as being our Buddha or Christ nature. Everyone we face good or bad have at one time taken their first breath, and in that moment of our first breath is always how we should see each other, because at some point all of us share this truth, we will also have a last breath.