21 Day Challenge – Day 15 – Good and Bad

berries IMG_1981

Is it possible, do you think, that if we are opening up to the magic and enchantment around us, our awareness of everything is heightened? Isn’t it possible that once the door is open, it is open to everything?

It is true that once the decision has been made to find enchantment, it is always easily found. But just as we’re looking for a lost set of keys and we come upon that IRS bill we forgot to mail, other things come into view.

So the question then is not necessarily about enchantment versus all that isn’t. It’s about perception.

Can you see it all? Can you experience the tiny butterfly landing lightly on a delicate branch with the same awareness as watching the vulture cleaning up a dead squirrel?

Buddhists believe there must be good and bad. You cannot know good without having first experienced bad. There must be a frame of reference. They are equally part of life and they are relational, which is to say, it depends on the perception of the individual.

It is about taking the good with the bad and being okay with either.

As a young child mud is every bit as magical as a kitten.  Enchantment is about returning to that child-like nature; experiencing everything with curiosity. In the natural world a butterfly is no better than a vulture, the acts they commit are received the same.

As humans we have the ability to discern with emotion, allowing us to ascribe human-like qualities to animals and inanimate objects and assign what is good or bad. This can lead us to perceive situations as good as someone else has the opposite experience.

So if we are opening up to all that is around us through the lens of magic we cannot discard something because it displeases us. We must look further, deeper into the maw of perceived darkness. There is always a light, there is always an upside. Sometimes it’s just being aware that our own awareness is expanding.

It is a process, this awakening to all that is. The rawness of newness. The work is in not abandoning the process. Don’t close your eyes to avoid seeing, simply turn your head and look somewhere else. Eventually you will turn your head all the way around, once more taking in the vulture and the squirrel. It is at that point you can appreciate it all. You can thank the giant majestic bird for doing what we as  civilized humas, disconnected from nature, cannot fathom doing. Accept it all, take your time with it. Wonder about it. It’s all magic.

[Photo: What’s your perception?]

21 Day Challenge – Day 12 – Gratitude

birdy IMG_1892As I selected my cart at Whole Foods today I did not expect to find a passenger. I was making my way up and down the aisles when I noticed a little movement on the outside of the top basket. A lizard. He was moving a little slower in the cooler temperatures of the store but was able to make his way to the handlebar where he looked at me perplexed and asked to be taken outside. I obliged. As I exited with unpaid merchandise I walked about six feet toward a grassy area. Before I got there he jumped off. Warmed by the 90 degree November sunshine he was once again feeling frisky. I watched to be sure he made it to safety lest some unsuspecting human find him beneath their shoe. He made to the grass, he’ll have to take it from there.

It is in these moments that I find complete gratitude. The dragonfly landing on my dress. A squirrel frozen not 3 feet in front of me because we surprised each other. Deer wandering in my suburban neighborhood. A bird peeking down at me from the porch roof. The wind.

It is the first of November, the official month of gratitude.

I am grateful for all the people in my life. The fun ones, the encouraging ones, the humorous ones, the spiritual ones, the loving ones, the kind ones. And the mean ones, the rude ones, the whiny ones and the sarcastic ones.  The button pushers and naysayers. Oh I think I am most grateful for those last two.

The button pushers allow me to learn more about myself. Because it’s not them, it’s me. It’s my button. If I were to pay very close attention I could probably find the thread that connected the various pushers to the specific button. Once I identify the button I can work to eliminate it.  Another person cannot make me feel or act a certain way without my permission. If a person drives me crazy, I am the one behind the wheel. They are my teacher. And I have much to learn. And for that I am grateful.

The naysayers show me the holes in my theories, they show me their vulnerabilities which are merely mirrors of my own. If they believe I can’t do something it is most likely because they don’t believe they could. They need me to succeed so they can see the possibilities for themselves. I owe them my successes. And my gratitude.

Each person we encounter that we have any kind of reaction to, good or bad, is a mirror. The perceived negative reaction lets us know exactly what we need to work on. The perceived positive reaction shows us our magnificence in another. We cannot see in others that which we do not possess. If I walk by 100 people and don’t react to them, they have nothing to share with  me. But that one person that cuts me off in traffic when I am in a hurry has the lesson.

Once I was aware of this, life became considerably more interesting. It became impossible for me to blame others for anything, instead I had to own my reactions and what I believed to be my shortcomings . A confrontation or a reaction was now the gift. Or rather the gift was somewhere in it. If I missed it, it would be back.

Gratitude is a portal. Once stepped through the magic in the mundane is revealed. Colors become more vibrant.  The sound of people laughing overcomes the noise of those complaining. The one beautiful flower among the weeds comes into focus.

So on this first official day of Gratitude Season I say Thank You. To everyone. For everything.

[Photo: My bird friend that was perched on the roof line of my patio.]