I was harvesting peppers today. The peppers are green like the surrounding foliage. As a result it is very easy to overlook them when harvesting. Hence I have adopted the habit of scanning the row two more times to make sure that I haven’t missed anything.

This reminds me that in life, sometimes the very thing that we are looking for is near us, but we cannot see it, not necessarily because it disappears into its surroundings, but because these things are often obscured by the other concerns of our lives. These matters, some big, others trivial, often distract us, preventing us from focusing on what matters most. But when we are intentional and focused, diligent and patient, everything comes together.

The peppers are wise teachers.

Goodness and nowness

As I was waiting on the Metra train today, a woman was waving her hand, trying to get my attention. She told me that the train wouldn’t stop where I was standing. I moved closer to where she was standing and thanked her. We both acknowledged that it’s only funny to watch people run for the train when it isn’t you doing the running.

I was struck by this. I often observe people engaging in seemingly futile or misguided gestures, but am generally disinclined to dissuade them without actually knowing them. I found her generosity fascinating. I am reminded of the Ewe proverb that translates as, “Your goodness is not for yourself, but for others.”

Afterwards, she mentioned that the sky was beautiful today. I hadn’t even looked up at all today until then. She was right. The sky was beautiful. I was intrigued by her attentiveness to something like this. To have that kind of presence in one’s world is really wonderful.

This is what Chögyam Trungpa referred to as “nowness”, a sense of presence in one’s world. A grounding that connects us to the phenomenal world. We are often so focused elsewhere, that too much of this world goes unnoticed and unappreciated.

The train came a short while later, stopping a few feet from where she stood, but about 40 feet from where I initially was. If not for her, I would have had to run for it.

Orbiting dead worlds

When we ruminate on what we believe other people are thinking about us, it is almost as if our attention gives mass to these things, and since mass produces gravity, we find ourselves in the orbit of these notions, going over them again and again. As our attention persists, these thoughts take on the nature of a black hole, ultimately devouring us.

Instead we might consider the ultimate insubstantiality of such thoughts, that the power of such things is contingent upon our investments in them. They are not constitutive of reality. In fact we are often disconnected from reality when we allow our minds orbit worlds born of our anxieties and little else.