Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Uncertainty of Paradise

Yesterday afternoon, Kathy and I arrived in Paradise (California). We are here visiting Nancy and Brian, two of Kathy's dearest friends from college days, who have basically left their day jobs behind and are now practicing urban farming on several acres of land adjacent to their home in this wooded part of the world.

After we arrived, we went on a tour of their gardens. The late afternoon sun shining through the translucent red, yellow, and green kale stalks reminded me of stained glass in a church window. The ingenuity of how they have set up their garden was staggering. I picked, ripped, and cleaned four or five varieties of lettuce for our dinner salad while we drank a glass of wine and caught up with each other.

Nancy and Brian are living in the uncertainty of life every day. The vaguaries of the weather, the threat from insects or animals, the countless other ways that their precious produce could be damaged or wiped out completely are part of their daily lives. Yet, the paradox is that dwelling in this uncertainty can lead to a diminished sense of stress and anxiety. Living in this way can decrease the reflexive and habitually reactive tendencies of the mind, and opens up the possibility that our inherent wisdom can be accessed. This Wisdom Mind - the part of us that really knows - helps us to find novel and effective ways to solve problems. Reactive mind is always trying to fix, change, or get rid of things. Wisdom Mind is there to help us live more skillfully in the midst of things.

The truth is, of course, that we are all living in uncertainty, waiting for our lives and actions to bear fruit. When you feel anxiety about your future, sit for a moment in the surety that things are always changing, and that the outcome of any  event is essentially uncertain. If a specific problem or situation is present, just acknowledge it for a moment, and then let it be without being so hell-bent to find a solution. When we release our attachment to the outcome, the solution often sprouts and ripens on its own as effortlessly as a plant rises toward the sky. Experiment with accessing Wisdom Mind, and then trust the fruits of insight from this fertile part of you.

From Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman:

From this hour I ordain myself loosed of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, the north and the south are mine.
I am larger, better than I thought, I did not know I held so much goodness.

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