Monday, February 9, 2015

The Gift of Invisibility

"Blending In"
- Outside the Desert Retreat House -

The other day as I walked along one of the wilderness trails outside my house I stopped and looked out at the bushes, rocks and mountains before me; and I realized that it was all brimming with so much life, much which was essentially invisible to the naked eye. Everything was marvelously blending together to create the one picture. 

The closer I looked I could see a little desert bird nesting in the bushes, maybe even some hummingbirds if I looked close enough - it's just that they all blended into the leaves on the tree.  Then I saw some rustling among the rocks as desert squirrels and rabbits scampered to and fro - I could barely see them because they are the same color as the rocks and they just sort of blend in. I also heard some rustling sounds and knew that snakes were out there slithering around,  but they are also designed to blend in with their environment so that's why (Thank God) I rarely ever see one even though I know that they are there.  

Perhaps my recent awareness of the beautiful balance of the blending of nature made me take special notice of an article I read in this morning's New York Times by the author Akiko Bush, titled: How to be Invisible.  The article suggested that in an age where there is so much emphasis on "standing out" and getting people to pay attention to us, we might all do well to take a lesson from nature and rediscover the value of "blending in" and being invisible: Bush writes:

Becoming invisible is not about denying creative individualism nor about relinquishing any of the qualities that make us unique, original, singular. Rather it can be a condition of insight that we are of a larger world, giving us a fuller appreciation for our place in the greater scheme of things.

Sometimes I find great wisdom on the pages of the New York Times.

When I was a younger man I often found myself doing all I could to advance my career, doing my best so that people would notice me. I wanted to be the guy who stood out from others as especially talented and gifted -  a prime candidate to be advanced up the ladder of success. 

The problem was of course that I had actually convinced myself into believing that I was the center of everyone else's attention and that other people were thinking about me all the time. Thinking I was always on center stage, I put a lot of useless energy onto tailoring my life to what I thought people expected of me.  I now realize that I was playing to an audience that wasn't even there.

In my later years of life I have not only come to realize that I am not on center stage - I no longer want to be.  In fact I have come to believe that "standing out" from others can be a great impediment on the journey for deeper truth and greater wisdom in life. 

Invisibility is a gift I have come to cherish and highly prize in this second half of my life. 

Being invisible doesn't mean that I don't exist or that I am no longer useful - of course I am aware of my uniqueness and my talents, and I know that my life contributes to the bigger picture; however, I am also aware of the uniqueness and the contribution of every other person in the web of life. I am  also aware of the the uniqueness of those rabbits and the hummingbirds and the squirrels on the rocks - all blending in together, all of us invisible and taking our place in the "greater scheme of things."

Invisibility is such a powerful and freeing experience. 

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