"New Every Morning"
I was driving along one of the streets in my neighborhood yesterday, and there tossed to the side of the road was a Christmas tree - just a few days after Christmas, not even the New Year, tossed on the trash heap, and now on to something new.
I have been reflecting on that tree in the trash yesterday. For me, it was so emblematic of today's fast-paced culture of instant gratification.
From time to time I have come across a label on various types of medicine or food that reads, "discard after use." I have often thought that this may well be the motto of the day - the unwritten rule that governs so much of the way people today live everyday life: "discard after use."
In my experience, there is an awful lot of "using" that goes on nowadays. People use their things, resources and even the other people in their lives to make their way up the ladder of success.
They spend money to make money, consume natural resources with personal pleasure as the only goal in mind. People use other people to fill the gaps, when they are lonely, to feel happy, to get pleasure. And when all the stuff and all the people no longer produce gratification, it all gets discarded, thrown to the trash heap of life like a plastic fork at a fast food restaurant: "discard after use."
That tree in the roadside trash yesterday also made me think of how difficult it is for people in a fast-paced, results-oriented culture to live in the moment. It seems like everybody is always planning for the next thing to come along (or nostalgically remembering the good old days).
And so, there is a frantic, almost frenetic planning for the holidays; the holidays arrive, the gifts, the parties, and then you can check it off your "to do" list - throw the tree to the road and move on to the next item on the agenda (some stores are already decked out for their Valentine's Day sales).
Just thinking about it all wears me out -planning, preparing to meet the deadline, getting results, checking it off, on to the next thing. It all feels so draining - like running on a treadmill or walking around in a circle and getting nowhere.
Is it any wonder that so many people have such a hard time today finding a deeper peace when you live under the banner of "discard after use," and when your eye is always on what comes next, determined to get there as fast as possible, making it impossible to be at peace.
A bloated ego and an inability to live mindfully in the moment are sure ingredients for anxious, dead-end living.
As I sit in my garden for my meditation this morning, I think about that little tree I saw yesterday thrown away at the side of the road, "discard after use."
Every morning I sit in this garden and I focus on simply being present. I don't make plans for the upcoming day. I don't think about my schedule or my agenda of what I want to happen or hope might happen. Nor do I sit and think about what has happened -not one thought about checking Christmas off my "to do"list. In fact, I don't "think" about anything at all. I simply sit, mindful of what "is" here, now.
And when I do this, I find that every moment is new - every moment a revelation. Every morning, sitting in the moment, I experience a new sense of "connection" - connection to the beautiful desert in which I live, connection to the people I know and the people I don't know, connection to an abiding, holy Presence in whom we live and move and have our being.
I don't ever want to "discard" or "use" any of this, and I am wonderfully content just to be here as I am.