It Just Grows to Show You

I approached the computer at 5:40 a.m. to write about the long, cold, and wet spring here in the Pacific Northwest. There are many observational lessons I’ve learned through planting this year’s vegetable garden, several of which I wanted to share with you. 

As I was about to take a seat, I heard a loud THUMP and went downstairs to quiet the dogs and see what it was. A bird had hit our window and was lying, stunned, on the ground. I’ve learned I can’t interrupt the fate of another, so I wasn’t panicked. 

Instead, I did what I could. I chose what I’ve come to witness as useful in any set of given circumstances: I said a heartfelt prayer and stayed quietly with the bird, resting. Not knowing if it would live and fly away, or die and move on to a new form, I sent it metta–loving kindness. Whatever the outcome is to be, benevolence is always a fitting response.

After about five minutes, my feathered friend hopped next to the edge of a flowerpot. A minute or two after that, it flew off. Today’s ouch ended with a smile. 

Making my way back to the desk, I was struck by how often what we think we should be doing is interrupted by something else. When I notice these non-linear moments offering us an opportunity to answer a different call, a distinctive need, I’m usually pleasantly surprised. They bring us back to the given moment, the present one. They steer us toward what the living, breathing world of form is calling for and away from our preconstructed mental agendas. 

If you’re anything like me, you might not have been taught to surf the unpredictable unknown. You were likely taught to find, process, and present some guise of certainty in the face of an uncertain world.

In fact, our training, or educational indoctrination, is designed to mold us and convince us to fit in. To persuade us that we need what others tell us is needed, and desire whatever is being hyped in the current media feeds, usually something that can be purchased or provided by something or someone outside of us. We’re taught to think in straight lines that march toward illusory progress–not circles, squiggles, and erratic occurrences.

Despite this morning’s unexpected bird collision, it turns out the title I’d already sat down to type–constructed to write about a seemingly dissimilar topic–remains totally apt! Only the “growth” now refers to me, not the garden plants I’ve been admittedly obsessive about being so far behind schedule. A silly schedule built from a lifetime of habitual acceptance of a certain set of beliefs. This morning’s life interruption, the THUMP, was just another invitation, a gesture to come back to what is happening not what I think should be happening.

Today’s everyday opportunity is also a reminder that all things worth having take time. That when I consciously “slow my roll,” as the kids say, and observe what asks for attention vs. my preconceived ideas of what is needed, life unfolds in ways that allow me to feel useful and more at ease. Even when a situation appears unfortunate, the possibility exists that it is a gateway to something better, something unknown.

Take a moment to reconsider your “to-do” list. Maybe drop one thing scheduled or planned. Ask if your next action is truly necessary, or is it just more unexamined movement toward a fictitious end? 

Then listen…

What’s right here, right now? What arises, from your heart, in the silent space between your thoughts? What’s beckoning you to meet this ever-present, instinctual, and natively intelligent aspect of yourself?