I sit in a tiny cottage about ten miles west of the Blue Mountains on the Eastern border of Oregon and Washington and live a very quiet and quite simple life, and have sufficient time to reflect and think about the ways and means by which I got into this position. Old, comfortable, relatively healthy and relatively sane with a religious and spiritual practice that informs and confounds me and holds me up. It doesn’t hold me way up. It holds me like the YMCA pool water held me up when I didn’t struggle as I learned to swim. A balance of understanding had to be arrived at which included fear, doubt, worry, trust, faith and courage or willingness. And, some effort at something I had never done before, but knew from the evidence of my eyes was possible.
Similarly, a baby partakes of all these elements when it takes that first step. It doesn’t take the first step in order to walk, it takes it because it wants to get from where it is, to there. It keeps falling down, and one day it moves a foot forward in order to not fall down, rather quickly, often that same day, it learns to not fall and the byproduct of that is walking. Immediately the baby’s Universe, as it knew it just moments before, is forever altered.
Some part of the inborn nature of the baby bade it to decide/choose an action and it became a toddler.
As I write, all of me is the sum-total of choices/decisions that I made throughout my life and that “me” was set into motion, initially, by other choices made by beings connected too me. Most of my life I had no way of seeing that I was making choices and decisions because I was busy looking for outcome, results, eventuation, gratification; or avoidance. I was living life as it presented itself and made lots of very hasty decisions, some even in panic, and the outcomes were mixed in terms of my approving or disapproving, and always they engendered another decision or choice. That’s how I spent, dispensed or squandered many years of my life. There was joy and fear doubt and loads of worry and everything glazed over with optimism and hope.
At about half-way through this life (so far), I encountered the Buddhist teachings and started to become aware that nothing is permanent or stays in a fixed state; so if I carved a statue out of marble I could change it by using the same tools with which I carved it. Will, effort, persistence, repetition and stepping away from the work often to see if I’m doing the right thing. It turns out the stepping away from the work is the most important part. It gives me perspective. Some days I work hard at it, other days hardly at all.
I step away and see what is possible.
Seeing is the important part. Open eyes. Allow.
The string on a bow is the only purpose of a bow.
Then I decide or choose or not.