It was supposed to be my day off. A rest day. I wanted to have two rest days considering I pushed it pretty hard last week with all my hiking. Well, my body was having none of that today. I felt great. I ate my aunt’s shepherd’s pie last night and that definitely did me some good. MMMmmmm good!
My mental check went like this: runners are at the door, I see my phone and earbuds, and if I fill a bottle of water I can simply take off, with a walk that goes practically next door up a nice hill; Christmas Hill in fact. I like that name because, as it implies to me, every visit is a gift.
So I gather up my items, don my runners and head out the door, and when I get to the actual start of the park, I pull out my phone, which doubles as my GPS and camera, and start taking a few pics.
I notice, and perhaps it is simply the time of year and weather and so on, that there aren’t many flowers or things that ‘pop’ out to my eye in various colours. “Oh well” I say to myself as I carry on down a path.
There are so many branches that cross over my head, getting in my visual space, that I actually can’t help but put my lens up to them. They are so close, and the texture of each branch is so different, some with bark, others with moss, that I start experimenting with the focus of my camera. It’s not adjustable really, and sometimes I have to trick it to focus closely on objects, but I see the result of bringing the focus up close, then far away.
I actually didn’t want to shoot many pictures today. I knew I had to meet family for a movie in town, so I had limited time to enjoy the view, but that’s not what happened. When I started taking pictures, I started to think about them. First here, then a few steps over there; and what about this? Each step brought me to a new perspective that begged for a photo. I was even starting to feel that it was pulling at my lens, drawing me in to ‘click’.
I started to think about how we focus in our daily lives to things that are both far and near, and I wondered, just like the photos showed, if we were missing the bigger picture. ‘We must be’ I thought to my self. My self is such a good listener, always willing to hear what I have to say.
Each image tells me something, or rather speaks to me about an aspect of life. They are no longer a picture of a leaf, or branch, or other close-up, they are aspects of life that it represents to me. What do the images say? Let’s have a look.
The first picture I took looked out to another mountain I love; Mount Douglas/KPOLS. I just rather thought it said “Hello, I see you there walking on my brother!” Funny thing that, for a mountain to have a voice and all, but it speaks to me. Just like sunsets, and images of soft fragile aspects of life do for others. When we start to wander in and among the leaves and branches, trees and forests, we start to see them differently. We start to understand the impact they have within us.
This leaf was at eye level and begged me to notice it. It looks as though it has a sickness on it. These spots represent another part of Nature interacting, and as soon as I call it a sickness, the idea of disease and infestation may occur to you. But what if it simply feeds other beings, like jumping oak galls, which are small wasp eggs or such. What if someone were looking down at our earth from my vantage point to the leaf, wondering what these stretches of cleared forest represents? Or mining pits, or farm watering circles, and so on. It served it’s purpose on me today, and got me thinking about perspective. Perspective and focus are two intertwined ideas.
What do we see when we focus on things farther away? We might think we see the whole picture, but we may not. Perhaps you’ve heard the term “You were too close to it to see”. Sometimes, that which we have grown very familiar with, no longer triggers the brains awareness of it. That’s the brain for us. Always looking out for new things, threats, learning, so if something is close to us, and always there, then it mustn’t be a threat, so there is no sense having our awareness spend precious energy on it.
Good brain, right? Well, when we can bring awareness closer and closer in to our centre, in to our habits and personal actions, we mights start to see something that has grown, changed, or in some manner modified itself from it’s innocent beginnings. That desire to watch a movie has grown in to a habit of escapism where we find ourself on the couch, munching through a bag of chips like a horse’s feedbag, wondering why our back hurts and we’ve gained two pounds over the weekend. We need both perspectives. We need to see the far and the close with equal regularity.
We don’t have to start right up close. We can look at things that are somewhat close. We may be aware of scars, or bare patches, where we know we are particularly vulnerable. We can look around at those and get comfortable with the idea of simply being close to that past hurt.
Where we focus is a choice.
I quite enjoy seeing birth in death, or the image of something from nothing, as most see it. This little fern grows from a wall of dead, or let’s say, brown dried-up fern, because they aren’t actually dead from tip to tail. It represents, to me, the light that can come from darkness, the ability to have a great idea amidst fools, the ability to generate love from abounding failure, and the power of inner courage against a backdrop of incessant suffering.
What some may find ugly, I prefer to peer in to. I wonder what judgement is made, and where it may have come from, and what I might see if I really got close to it. Would it change it’s shape, or colour, texture, or roughness. Would my looking deeper invoke a clearer view with less lenses and bias? What would I see for sure? And so I look, deeper, and deeper until I can start to see something different than what I thought I saw before.
What do you see when you really look at something, at someone, at an issue? Do you see your bias, your coloured lens of past experience, or your beliefs and lessons? can anyone ever really free themselves from personal bias? Perhaps we can when we are babies, and it is that primordial brain that holds the images we once saw way back in our subconscious, that we can never recall.
The irony, that we could see it at one time, but never be able to recall it.
What do we miss by focussing on the very close as well; the details of life, when so much awaits the run? We might get so caught up in the minutia of each branch that crosses our path that we can’t see the path we are on. It’s easy to do; to get caught up in our errands, the things we have to ‘do’ every day. “I have no time to simply be” we might say to ourselves in exasperation. Is that so?
We have to stay vigilant about our path or direction we desire to go in life. This is our intention, and without an eye to it, we can get mighty distracted by each branch that falls, momentarily blocks, or obscures our vision of the path.
Can you see your path? Does it have a grand design? Is there a structure or form to it? If there is, you may be getting fooled by your Egoic want, rather than your intention. If we accept that any end goal, or desire for some end state is a goal, or dharma, or purpose, then what happens when we get there? It looses its lustre. We begin looking for the same want; the Ego does this.
Instead, your purpose in life can better serve you, and all those that surround you, by your doing the very best you can, in what you are doing. If you are writing, then you write with passion and depth of character. If you are walking, then walk with awareness of each step. If you are listening, then you listen with rapt attention. When you do what you do, with perfect alignment and awareness of purpose, of that which you do, you are living perfect awareness of self! That’s a mouthful!
Do you feel successful, full of life life, driven to achieve, on a purpose to bring something to someone? Know that you have nothing, but your self, in life, which is keenly felt at the time of our death, in our possession. What we have, ultimately, are experiences, feelings, and memories of our time here. That is all. Are you cultivating them? Are you sewing them? If you are living your purpose, then you can’t help but reap the fruits of being the best version of ‘you’ no matter what you do.
Our mind is the most magnificent organ in our body. It allows us to perceive and witness all of our other organs as much as we can. It also does what we ask it, if we remember we are ultimately in control. It’s easy to live a lifetime without any awareness whatsoever, but if you want to really live this life you were given, you mustn’t allow the comfort of your mind to ensnare you from the wilds of new experience.
Dream, love, learn, and imagine, every day. This is good training for living your purpose. In doing so, remember to adjust your focus, look around you, and especially inside your knowing self for deeper meaning. It all rests within.