Musings: Spring 2007

My friend, Lori, sent me this poem which I tacked up on the wall. I especially appreciate the line about grumbling, because it encourages me to keep my life simple. I don’t want to be lugging tons of stuff with me the next time the wind blows.

Be a Seed
By Lori B. McCray

Flowers, when spent, give up their seeds
Wind blows them where it will.
Dropped in the perfect place,

Never wishing to be elsewhere,

They root and flourish.

Never grumble about moving on.
You have no idea where the wind
will take you.
Be a seed. Enjoy the journey.
Wherever you land is home.

When I imagine myself as a seed, then a flower, then a seed again, I get a sense that this is really the cycle of my own life. We all experience many chapters in our lives, our blooms over many seasons and then periods of dormancy. Like the flowers, we have no control over the climate around us or the many elements of fate or good fortune that may fall onto our path. We are like seeds blown in the wind. But because of our free will, the simplicity of being a flower blossoms into the magnificence of being a human who can think, choose and create. What a huge responsibility we have in this creation, which is all about choices.

Our information technology has multiplied the number of choices we are faced with at every moment of the day by hundreds and thousands of times what our ancestors experienced. We live in both the real world and a virtual world of possibilities. The virtual reality of our ancestors flowed from their inspiration and awe of the Great Mystery permeating their lives, a source connecting them to something greater than themselves. We project our virtual reality onto TV, the Internet and through advertising, providing unlimited engagement with anything that can be imagined. The possibilities are endless. In the real world, too many choices create stress and indecision.

It’s no coincidence that we fondly yearn for “the simple life,” an intuition that life would be easier, less stressful and more satisfying without so much choice, stuff to buy and things to do. We could choose to slow down and discover life’s greatest reward — the simple satisfaction of enjoying exactly where we are right now in this moment. Life’s greatest successes are not born fully grown and evolved; they develop over time as our lives unfold in a natural progression of small, successful steps. If we’re too busy rushing onto the next opportunity or bargain, we probably won’t even notice how successful and satisfied we already are.

One of the most important things I’ve learned through practicing yoga is that simplicity leads to success. Yoga poses were originally described by enlightened yogis thousands of years ago as precise prescriptions for mind/body/spirit health. At first glance, most poses appear impossibly complex to master; however any yoga pose can be reduced to its smallest movements — a piece of the pose that’s doable for you — which allows you to be successful every time you do it. In a standing forward bend, if you can’t bend down from the waist while standing, try bending from the waist while sitting on a chair, or simpler still, just bend your head forward and down from the neck. Any small amount of movement forward is progress. With patience, practice (and a good teacher), these first, small, successful steps will eventually land you upside down on your head in an elegant, invigorating headstand!

The beauty of yoga is that what happens in yoga class, doesn’t stay in yoga class. The result of all this patient and focused effort is having the confidence to move forward in any area of life. Slow down enough to notice the simple pleasures and things that go well on your path and follow them to your heart’s content.