Everyday the dog and I go get the mail – its about a quarter mile each way. We walk together, the dog and I, and my partner joins us when the weather is nice and the road is dry. But it’s winter now and when the road isn’t snow crunched its godawfully muddy. Lately it’s been godawful…and life has been muddy and murky for me of late as well.
The walk began as many of them do with Tomo out front and me lost inside a bunch of thoughts. I was somewhere in the future planning and plotting and trudging heavily and mindlessly up the road as my feet sunk into the mud, and cold water seeped into my socks, I suddenly woke up. Coming to my senses I remembered that each year around this time I re-discover that if I walk where the dog walks my feet will be less squishy and the walk more pleasant. And briefly I would remember too that every year I forget this wisdom and I have to re-learn it. It seems to be that way with a lot of life’s lessons – for some of us – for me – I have to get my feet wet more than once before I wake up and realize there is another path through the muck.
Follow the dog through the mud. Get out of the head and into the experience.
I stopped and stood for a moment gazing out over the snow covered hills, noticing the fence poles and lines slicing the uniformity of the snow into puzzle parts and triangles and I noticed sparkles here and there of light playing with crystals and the vast beauty of the land greeted me and a fleeting feeling of gratitude swept through me and then up popped Tomo at my side drooling for a treat and forcing me to look down at the road and see that it was dry and firm and as I gave Tomo some kibble a voice came to me and said: “Just walk.”
So, I started walking and paying attention to walking. Recognizing thoughts as they came up but not holding onto them – just noting “thinking / thought” and trying to experience life from where the rubber meets the road. Practicing Buddhism has helped me see that thoughts are to the mind as sounds are to the ear or images to the eyes and we don’t have to live inside our heads all the time. We can from our bodies and we can live from our hearts and when we watch thoughts and thinking patterns come and go to the point they become boring, then we might start to relate differently to our minds. We might be so inclined to become more mindful and soulfully grounded … in emptiness and freedom…we might find we are drawn to live more from our hearts as we age and not less but differently from our minds….and that’s what happened. I stopped thinking and just walked.
And something happpened. For just a moment – a brief moment in time I tasted freedom – I experienced a gap in between thoughts and in that gap there was no thinking – no future and no past – no anxiety and no worries there was just walking. Then it passed and once more I was back with thoughts and thinking but something had shifted. In that brief moment that I tasted freedom I knew down in my bones that that experience was more real and more true than any thought in my mind.
The letter that I had been fretting and worrying over came that day but it didn’t and hasn’t conjured more anxious, worried, frightened thoughts….just helped me realize the importance of living in the moment.