“We do not hear nature boasting about being nature, nor water holding a conference on the technique of flowing. So much rhetoric would be wasted on those who have no use for it. The man of Tao lives in the Tao, like a fish in water. If we tried to teach a fish that water is physically compounded of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, the fish would laugh its head off.”
I was at the beach a few days ago, and I walked to the top of a sand dune so that I could get a more expansive view of the ocean. It was beautiful to watch, from atop this small hill, the blue waves crashing on the shore, and I breathed the salty air deeply into my lungs. After a few moments on the dune, I looked down and noticed the footprints of all the people who had been there before me. It became clear that numerous others had quite recently made this journey, possibly with a similar intention and desire, and as I stood there looking at and enjoying the beauty of the ocean, I felt a connection with all of them.
Among the footprints, a certain set stood out to my eyes. They looked like sand drawings of sea turtles. It was fun to imagine these turtles walking about, milling around my feet, enjoying the sun and the sand. And, much like when you are having a picnic and you see an ant (just one ant) and suddenly you see a hundred ants, a thousand ants, all of whom were invisible to your eyes before you saw and identified the first ant, I suddenly realized that I was essentially surrounded by literally dozens of these sand-formed sea turtles, and I was delighted. They were everywhere! A sea turtle party was happening all around me, and I had only just now noticed it.
And it was then that I realized the most surprising part of all. They were my own footprints. That’s right. My own shoes had been forming these sea turtle sculptures all around the top of the dune, dozens of them, and I had presumably been leaving them everywhere else I had been on the beach that day, as well, without even knowing it.
Where you are headed in life matters. Goals matter; destinations matter. However, as we often hear (and yet so easily lose sight of), the true quality of life really does arise from the journey. It is about being present and awake, in this moment. It is about feeling gratitude and appreciation for every good thing that exists around us, right now. And I think my experience that day at the beach helped to illustrate another way that we can make the most of our journey: that is, to be aware that we are leaving an imprint on the universe with every move that we make along the way, with every word that we speak, with every step that we take. If we walk mindfully, and choose to infuse goodness, virtue, and beauty into every day, into every interaction that we encounter, into every moment that we engage with the world around us (no matter how insignificant that engagement may seem), you may suddenly find yourself delightfully surrounded by a crowd of beautiful sea turtles of your own creation, without even realizing that you had been leaving them in your tracks all long. And you will be enheartened with the knowledge that, in some manner or another, you’ve made every place you’ve been a little bit more beautiful and meaningful, just by having been there.
Compassion and strength are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are not even at odds. True compassion is rooted in carefully cultivated principles, universal love, and clear-eyed reason. This highest version of compassion both informs and enhances strength by imbuing it with righteousness, clarity, and drive. True strength, in the same way, is rooted in wisdom, self-discipline, and courage. This highest version of strength empowers compassion by providing it with the peace and security it needs to perform at the highest levels of efficacy, humaneness, and virtue.
“Eternity isn’t some later time. Eternity isn’t a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of the here and now which ‘thinking’ and ‘time’ block out. Understanding the relationship between mortality and something within you that is transcendent of mortality is the big job. The experiencing of eternity – right here and now – is the function of life.”
The Greek root of the word “enthusiasm” is enthousiazo. It literally translates to, “the essence of God lives within you.” When you tap into a feeling of pure enjoyment and enthusiasm for something, anything – an activity, an experience, a person, or just for this extraordinary gift of being alive and awake – you are by that very act connecting your inner spirit with the Creative Spirit of the Universe. That is, your own individual flow of positive energy has the ability to create a conduit to the endless wellspring of positive energy contained within the Universe. What an amazing and inspiring revelation!
The scruffy little rescue kitten above is named Enzo. I am told that he was named after the creator of Ferrari, but I found the fact that his name shares the first two letters and the last two letters with the word “enthousiazo” to be a delightful coincidence. Kittens provide us with such a wonderful window into a pure “living in the moment” state of mind. All animals, in fact, show us, just by being themselves, what it means to exist in an abundant state of natural enthusiasm. And, if we are paying attention, we just might also be reminded that we too have full access to this Essence of God within our own selves, any time we desire it, if only we choose to seek it out.
“When a grasshopper sits on a blade of grass, it has no thought of separation, resistance, or blame. Children seem to prefer dragonflies whose wings and bellies are as red as chili peppers. But the green grasshopper blends completely with the green grass, and children rarely notice it. It neither retreats nor beckons. It knows nothing of philosophy or ideals. It is simply grateful for its ordinary life. Dash across the meadow, my dear friend.”