Monday, September 16, 2013

A Simple Life

-in my meditation garden-

As I sat quietly in my garden this morning, gazing at the sculpture of Saint Francis, framed by budding Hibiscus flowers, I thought about where I was at this time last year, and realized how radically different my life is today compared to only a year ago. In just a few months, I went from living a life of extreme complexity to living a very simple life. 

Last year I was living in a big city and noise occupied every moment of my day - the noise of cars, the hustle and bustle of people jostling about, the noise of a jam-packed scheduled from morning until night, the noise of meetings and appointments, phone calls and emails.  Last year my mind was filled with the noise of planning and preparation - strategizing agendas. Then suddenly it all changed. 

Today I sit in utter silence. The sun is about to rise. I watch the hummingbirds drinking from the fountain and feel the cooling breeze, a welcome relief before a triple digit desert day. I have no particular agenda in mind for today. I will write and read and walk the desert trails. I enjoy living with my wife, playing with my dogs in the pool, and visiting with the new friends we have come to know living here in the desert. 

My life has changed significantly.

The thing that has probably changed most for me in my new and simpler desert life is that I now find myself more and more able to live in the "moment" -  open to what "is" as opposed to remembering what "was" or planning for what will "be." For me, this has made all the difference in the world. 

I remember something Marie Howe, the State Poet of New York, once said about the simple things of everyday life - you become a poet when you become aware of the events of everyday moments in ordinary life. The poetry of life is always found in the "moment" - in the simple and in the ordinary.

I came back from the store yesterday. It was lunchtime, and my wife had prepared a little salad accompanied by a dish of fresh strawberries for us. As we sat down to eat the meal, I was very aware that we both were taking great delight in the simple pleasures of ordinary life.  Eating a dish of strawberries was a moment filled with poetry. 

In my garden reflection this morning I thought to myself that although I did lead a very complex life in days gone by, I didn't have to live that way.  I could have taken more time for silence. I could have practiced a more mindful and simpler lifestyle, even in the midst of my demanding schedule and complicated life. I just chose not to do that and it was a bad choice. 

I wondered if maybe I chose to lead such a complex life as a way of protecting my own ego. I could hide my "self" within the noise of life - hide within the busyness of the schedule, hide in the false illusion that "I" was the one in control as I plotted and planned and strategized. I now wonder if I chose to live with all that complexity and with all that noise as a way of protecting myself from being present in the moment; because when I am mindful in the moment, I am always connected to everything and everyone outside my self. 

Living simply and living in the "moment" is essentially alien to the  bloated and protected ego. 

I'm humming that beautiful tune from Leonard Bernstein's Mass:

Sing God a simple song, lauda laude
Make it up as you go along, lauda laude
Sing like you like to sing, God loves all simple things.
For God is the simplest of all,
For God is the simplest of all. 

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