Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Habits of Mind
Every day is a new walk. I decided this morning that this is my mantra. First of all, it's true. See the picture above? This is my favorite intersection in my neighborhood, where Woodburn and Sevier cross. It's a majestic corner, with towering oaks that lean slightly over the road as if to say, This is ours, all ours. Even in the winter, the trees are mighty and imposing, skeletal though they may be.
I took the above picture yesterday. Here's today's picture:
That's smoke coming up from the sewer line. I don't know why there's smoke coming up from the sewer line exactly, though apparently there are official reasons that I was supposedly notified about. The smoke gave the intersection a ghostly, mysterious sort of feeling. Really, half the time this neighborhood feels enchanted; this morning, even more so.
Every day is a new walk. I've been reading books on Buddhist psychology lately, which I tend to do during stressful or busy times. Some days my mind is a bad neighborhood, and Buddhism--by which I mean Buddhism-Lite for Westerners--offers me practices to turn off all the hoodlum voices that make me feel even more stressed and tense.
What I keep hoping for is a way to be happy all the time, and by happy I mean free of stress and anxiety and conflict. When I am happy I want so badly to bottle it, to somehow save it for later. Many mornings as I've walked toward the intersection of Woodburn and Sevier, I wish I could live my life in that moment of beauty and sublimity.
Well, I can't. I just can't. I can't meditate or pray my way into a stress-free, conflict-free, anxiety-free life, and it really irks me. Or at least it did until I came up with my new mantra: Every day is a new walk. Every day I get to have these moments, if I pay attention, if I decide to be present. Every day will have its share of new anxieties, but there will also be opportunities to open my mind to beauty, compassion, kindness and joy. It's all there, and it can't be saved for later.