“We mostly spend [our] lives conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have, and to Do… forgetting that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance, except so far as they are transcended by and included in , the fundamental verb, to Be.”Evelyn Underhill
Now here is a quote that took me some time to think more deeply about before I found its profound truth. Evelyn Underhill was an English poet, novelist as well as a pacifist and a mystic. The older I get the more I have fallen for the mystics, especially the Franciscan mystics. I love to thinking deeply into what lies beneath the surface of everything. I guess that is why I have found these words so profound because they speak of a deep truth to me.
Human Being is the fundamental verb that I am striving for first and foremost in my life these days. This is not they way I am wired though, as I love adventure and going everywhere, exploring and learning anything new. I love to focus my energy on anything that excites me. I am definitely a FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) kinda guy. I know that is probably what attracted me to walking the Camino in the first place. I was looking for some big adventure that would excite me as I had just retired from Boeing. I was ready to be challenged to try something completely different. The Camino seemed like just the right way to begin my retirement from a desk job at Boeing where I sat for most of my 40 year career. Now, I would try walking everyday for 5 weeks. What an adventure, I was thinking, and it was!
The funny thing was though during all those long days of being outside walking, I found my mind began to slow down as I was not thinking about this, or that or what needed to get done. Mostly, Terri and I were focused on some very simple things, like where was the first place we could stop in the morning for our morning Cafe con Leche and Coussaint. The Camino slowed my mind down and I began to experience a little of what Evelyn Underhill was talking about in her quote. All the verbs like “to want” or “to have” or “to do” are still present but the fundamental truth that lies underneath is about the verb “To Be”. To just be with no big agendas or chasing my ego from place to place to find the next great and exciting thing or place or whatever.
Over the last year, I been practicing (and I emphasize this word practicing), doing nothing, just being. Now I am sure for many of you this sounds crazy. What do you mean, doing nothing? I guess it is taking this idea of Human Being that I learned from the Camino and applying to my life everyday. I will give you an example of one practice I started up recently to help me with this “doing nothing” practice. Every morning (even if it is cloudy) I start by sitting out on our deck at sunrise. Much like we did each morning on the Camino, except we were walking. I will simply just sit and watch and I try to keep my mind as quiet as I can. I particularly love watching crows fly by our deck each day at dawn, just like clockwork. I like to practice the silencing of my mind and to just BE STILL. To simply BE PRESENT to the dawn. To do nothing, to not be planning and organizing what I am going to get done this day or where I will be going. To rest my ego, to release my daily agenda and to do list and just BE. I spend up to 30 to 45 minutes each morning like this (much easier to do when your retired, I know). I have to say, this practice has been a true gift as it has provided the solid sense of the beauty of “just being present”.
I read a meditation today that I felt sums this idea up well and I believe we are all called to follow this advice from Fr Richard Rohr.
“to love things in and as themselves, to love things for what they are, not for what they do for us…When we look out from these eyes, we see that it’s not about us! And I promise, when we begin seeing the world this way, everything starts to give us joy. Simple things start to make us happy, and Reality begins to offer us inherent joy.”
I hope you also find the joy of “Human Being”!
Photograph of the Month
I mentioned my morning practice of sitting for the sunrise. This past week there was a particularly beautiful one that I am sharing with you here. There is some very good health reasons for being present each day to the dawn and the sunsets and it has to do with the setting of biological clocks each day for getting the best sleep. I learned this from listening to a podcast by Dr Andrew Huberman, a Stanford neuroscientist on “Sleep Toolkit: Tools for Optimizing Sleep & Sleep-Wake Timing“. Give this podcast a listen and it has definitely helped me with my sleep.
I am including a second photograph this month since we are now at the time of year when the Larch trees are in their “golden glory”. These amazing trees are one of my favorites as they are deciduous pine trees that transfer nutrients from their needles to be stored in the trunk of the tree and then they the needles turn a beautiful citrus golden color and drop off (so they can withstand the heavy winter conditions without losing their tree limbs). They are sometimes referred to as the “Einsteins of the forest”.