Mindful Reflection Tip #3
The meditative lifestyle isn’t just about the inner life; it’s also about reconnecting to the outer world: not just mindfulness but also reflection.
A few days ago Caroline and I were enjoying the warm sun of a late summer afternoon when she closed her eyes for a few moments to settle her mind. As they opened again she gasped quietly and whispered to me to turn my head. There in our backyard stood a magnificent heron — ramrod-straight and oozing untamed dignity.
Speaking of untamed, our garden is quite unlike our neighbors’ manicured patches. By late summer it teems with overgrown life; perhaps the heron deemed it some wild oasis in the monotonous suburbanscape.
Whatever its motives, it graced our afternoon. Its head turned to one side with an indifferent eye on us, the bird shocked the familiar from our eyes, returning us to the reality of where and how we lived: in a world that is not ours. For all our mastery of nature, our technological progress and environmental destruction, we’re just visitors with a brief lease on life, of no particular significance. Even our environmentalist instincts set us apart from nature for, let’s be honest, deep down we’re designed to care more about humanity than the planet.
Since childhood I’ve been urged to consider my mortality daily, the better to keep life and perspectives in order. With aging it grows easier to do, and harder to ignore. This brief meeting had a similar effect, bringing the ticking of life’s unstoppable clock to the fore and pushing my daily worries back to the farthest reaches of triviality.
Perhaps this is why we seek out intimate contact with nature. To feel once more naked, free and unbearably vulnerable — eventually to be recycled, though not just yet.