How might this moment be a gift to me, just as it is? I asked in last week’s post.
I fingered that question like a smooth stone in my pocket while I put on my jacket and shoes.
“Okay then,” I said to myself. “I’m going to enjoy this moment.”
Immediately a thought pinged back: you might not.
I took a breath and let go of the expectation I was putting on the present moment and rephrased my intention. “Okay then. I’m going to be in this moment and see what happens.”
On another bike ride with Fred, I paid attention to what I saw, heard, felt, and smelled and what was coming to my mind in that moment. One recollection led to another. It seemed as if each event had arrived at my door with bags of new clothes, and now I was opening the bags, taking the things out, and trying them on.
Oh. That’s what that person was trying to say.
Oh. Wait a minute. I thought we agreed to . . .?
Oh. Perhaps what that person is not saying in their email is telling me that . . .
I can’t read or work when I ride, and it’s not safe to listen to podcasts, so my mind is free to listen to what I’ve experienced and be changed by what I hear.
In a Ted Talk, poet David Whyte said,
There is no self that will survive a real conversation. There’s no self that will survive a real meeting with something other than itself. There’s no organization that will keep its original identity if it’s in the conversation. And after a while you realize you don’t want to actually keep that old static identity. You want to move the pivot of your presence from this thing you think is you, into this meeting with the future, with the people you serve, with your family, with your loved ones. It’s in this self-forgetfulness where you meet something other than yourself that all kinds of astonishing things happen.
Each moment is a conversation and, in it, an invitation to be changed by it. I overlook this invitation when I relegate some moments as bad or unimportant, when I only see them through the lens of their capacity to make me feel good, or when I cover my ears from hearing anything that makes me feel less than or challenges my typical ways of being. Instead, I want to “move the pivot of my presence” and receive what is actually happening and let it loosen my grip on my old identity.
Recently, I spent a fair bit of time trying to book a vacation place on Airbnb for a week in March. I’m new at this and am learning what to look for to help me make a good decision. As I scrolled through the listings and used the filters, I could narrow my search down to ones that had the non-negotiables for us. We wanted a quiet place in a specific location with a comfortable bed and a kitchenette that was reasonably priced and had a generous refund policy.
That was hard to find. So I began playing with what I might take off that list to make it work and asking what a host might allow to make it work. No. The 48 hour cancellation policy was firm.
That email conversation with a person who had a name helped me pivot. Instead of being afraid that we could lose hundreds of dollars if we cancelled later, I thought of the person I had conversed with receiving the income. I can imagine that Covid’s been hard on her business. And haven’t I been hearing and saying that we’re all connected? I’m not separate from her.
I began to consider a new thought. What if I set aside what’s best for me? We could book the place we want, and if something unforeseen happens and we can’t go, we’d have an opportunity to be generous.
And that would be astonishing.
It’s in this self-forgetfulness where you meet something other than yourself
that all kinds of astonishing things happen.
— David Whyte
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In this Ted Talk, David Whyte speaks of what he witnessed in the Galapagos Islands. It led him to see how astonishing things happen in real conversations with life. The quote in today’s post is from this talk. Whyte begins the talk by reciting his poem Everything Is Waiting for You. Here’s the first mischievous sentence, “You’re great mistake is to act the drama as if you are alone.” Enjoy the poem and the talk, and may you be astonished by what happens next.