Simple Courtesy

Such a simple thing.  Don’t know why I am posting this.  Yet as obvious as it seems, some people don’t seem to understand.

A few days ago, I arrived at an off-site work location.  People from about a dozen and a half different entities were meeting to work together, never having met before.  I walked in, asked who was in charge, then made my way over to him to introduce myself.  I’ll call him Gene.  He had been talking to one of the newly arrived men, was now talking to the another in a casual, welcome-to-the-facility kind of manner.  I walked up to him and to the other guy and said, excuse me.  Gene whipped around, and replied in a most dismissive and condescending manner, I’ll get to you when I’m finished with him.  Then he turned away.


Walked away, found my work area, and proceeded to get ready.

Someone must then have told Gene exactly who I was and who I worked for, because suddenly he sought me out and was sticky sweet welcoming. I was polite, nothing more.  For the next days, he sought me out on several occasions, asked if I needed coffee, anything else, anything at all.  I remained polite, nothing more, turning down his offers, all the while thinking, you know very well that I know exactly who you are.  One of those people who demeans anyone he deems subordinate, while effecting a hearty, familiar manner with his (apparent) peer and betters.

The simple thing that I mentioned?  If you are courteous to everyone, you never have to worry about offending the wrong person.  Seems obvious, however…


Dusk and Dawn

          A walk. A simple walk. Taking a walk at dawn and again at dusk, day after day, will clarify the self and merge it with greater possibilities all around. Really, I kid you not. You will discover a truer sense of yourself.

          For many years I was a night person. Stay up late, sleep late, then do it all again, day after day. Something about the darkness seemed almost magical, as if offering endless possibilities stretching into the vastness beyond vision. For me it was nearly a physical as well as a mental experience. The sensation of worlds within my own mind opening, blossoming, as the sun descended and night rose quietly all around. Into that dark silence I seemed to awaken and expand. I became something more, someone greater, than I was during the day.

          Fast forward. Due to jobs, life, the strictures of the regular world, I became accustomed to awakening early. But never very happily. I dozed for as long as I could after the alarm sounded. Nestled under the covers until the very last possible minute. Wishing that my schedule allowed me once again to meld with the routines of the night. After years of rising early, with daily hints of grumbling, I found that I no longer had the ability to sleep in, to sleep later, even on days off or on vacation. I awoke automatically before the sun had risen. I ceased setting the clock, and yet never was late. This did not seem a welcome development. I took long walks after the sun had set in the evenings, merging with the darkness even if only for the length of the activity, and wishing that I could stay up until well beyond midnight, existing in that realm that so beautifully stimulated my inner senses, perceptions, and imagination.

          Then finally, a few years ago, I made the conscious decision to change my mind set. How does the saying go? If you do what you’ve always done, then you will get what you’ve always gotten. And viewing early morning as an unwelcome intrusion seemed increasingly silly and unproductive. So I began getting up as soon as I awakened, pulling on clothes in the dark house, (I dislike lights in the morning), lacing up my walking shoes, and heading out the door into the pre-dawn. Whatever, the weather, hot, cold, humid, raining, or sleeting. And, oh my, what a wonderful decision.

          In that pre-dawn time, in that last half hour or so of darkness before the eastern horizon begins to turn gray, and then lavender, and then pinkish blue, the world seems so still, and yet quietly alive. The possibilities, the expanding perception, surround and envelop. And when I am able to time the morning just right, I leave the house in complete darkness, and arrive back home as the first light blushes on the horizon. There is little better way to start the day.

          And I’ve continued to walk in the evening as well. Welcoming the new night as I’ve always done. And I’ve found, quite unexpectedly, that there’s something intrinsically pure about greeting each new day, and then experiencing it again as it slips away into darkness. A cyclical rhythm that is inexplicably wonderful. And here I must stress, must must must must must, that dawn and dusk must be consciously experienced. The person must be present in the moment, observing, perceiving the greater world around. Getting caught up in internal thoughts, especially negative or otherwise stressful, does nothing more than continue the never-ending mental static of the day, that internal litany that fails to see anything beyond the self. Open the eyes, look all around. Experience the vast darkness beyond. Notice the details, experience the surroundings. And you will find that if you quiet that internal mental static on your walks, if you merge with the day’s rhythms, then your own thoughts, perceptions, and imagination will gradually purify overall into a reflection of your truer self. The person who you are, far beneath the static. Far beneath the artificial inclinations of socialization and habit. The darkness with its possibilities calls forth your internal magic.  Your greater purpose.  The reason for you.

A Glimmer of Monasticism

Monasticism has been intriguing me these past few months. And not necessarily from a religious perspective. (I have not received the gift of faith for any one religion, so I find myself studying them all in questing fascination.) For millennia monasticism has had as its goal, whatever the particular religion, the eschewing of worldly pursuits and goods and considerations for the purpose of living a more fully spiritual life. When the exterior life is minimized, the interior life expands. Focused contemplation enhances and deepens that expansion. Pursuing that interior life for months, and then years, and then decades… I can’t begin to imagine the cumulative effect upon the body, mind, and spirit.  What might a person become, what might I become, or perceive, or understand, or experience?  That question is beyond fascinating.

In my current situation I cannot live a truly monastic life, and nor would I want to. I have a wonderfully fantastic husband/best friend, a calling (of some sort) to write (something), and an innate belief that I am not supposed to run off to a cabin in the woods and exist by myself (for longer than a weekend here and there). But the concept of monasticism keeps percolating in my thoughts. I want to move in my life towards some of its elements, towards those that I can incorporate into my current life without sacrificing its best aspects. A simplification, a dedication to contemplation, to meditation and the reading of many and varied spiritual texts, to a quieting of the world outside and the world within, so that into the silence of world and self a more profound understanding and experience might occur, and continually deepen with passing time.

So how to begin? I have no deeply meaningful plan, novice at this that I am. I have only a few starting points, extremely obvious ones. But I must start somewhere. And hopefully these small changes will lead to the perception of other useful changes, and so on. Every day, then, I will: 1) Most simply, meditate. (This meditation is the standard empty-the-mind, focus-on-the-breathing kind of meditation.) 2) Read a spiritual book/text and reflect upon its meaning. 3) Eat only when hungry, and in modest amounts (though the food itself can be quite tasty). 4) Exercise, or do any variety of manual labor. 5) Keep the TV, radio, and computer turned off as much as feasibly possible. 6) Resist the urge to acquire, or even think about acquiring, stuff of any kind (beyond true essentials).

In essence, simplify the exterior life, enhance the internal life, and see what happens. This is only a first, small step, but it is a step in the best of directions.