Thursday, August 4, 2016

To Be What I Already Am

"Here and Now"
- in my meditation garden -

I have been away on vacation for the past two weeks, spending an exciting time on a cruise and land tour of the many natural wonders of Alaska. On the final day of the cruise portion of our tour, a leaflet was passed out to the passengers announcing that a special seminar would be held that day for people to meet with a travel director and plan their next vacation. The leaflet announced: “This is a good time to plan another adventure. Get ready now for the next event on your bucket list.”

And so, as our ship sailed through icy-crisp waters passing by the majestic snow-capped mountains of a glorious untamed wilderness, a whole group of people went down to sit inside a dark auditorium listening to someone talk about their “next adventure,” making plans to check off the next big item on the proverbial “bucket list.

I think about all those passengers sitting in that auditorium, some perhaps sad that a vacation was coming to an end, getting ready for am exciting vacation yet to come – what a perfect icon of the spiritual rut in which so many people find themselves stuck nowadays. Always looking forward to the adventure yet to come, people often miss the greatest adventure that is already right here – the adventure of living every day.

I am reminded of a little Zen saying about living in the routine of everyday ordinary life:

When you pay attention to your everyday life
you will discover something truly wonderful.
Our regular old pointless lives are incredibly joyful,
amazingly, astoundingly, mercilessly joyful.

Interestingly enough, as I get older I have less and less desire to think about the things I yet want to accomplish before I “kick the bucket.” In fact, every day I find myself being pulled more and more into the present. Our adventure in Alaska was wonderful and exciting,  but this morning as I write my blog article I am not nostalgically thinking about all we did in the time we were on vacation and I am hardly focusing on the next great adventure. In fact, my time away has helped me to cherish and relish every moment of the amazing life that I already have.

I am reminded of something the renowned monk and author, Thomas Merton, once wrote in his journal in the later years of his life

Finally I am coming to the conclusion in my life
that my highest ambition is to be what I already am.

As I sat in my garden this morning I recalled one of favorite poem–prayers. A perfect prayer for just coming home from a great adventure:

Flipping, flapping, flapping
Not yet ready to fly
Anchored by too much
The past is a chain holding me down
The future is a vision not yet clear
There is only today
Today I will soar

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