Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
Who can remain still until the moment of action?
Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment.
Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.
-Tao Te Ching, Verse 15
One late summer day last year, I had a profound experience involving one of our deer friends. We typically get a few deer-friend visitors every day, and we go out and feed them some flavored corn or an apple. There have been many times I have sat by them and watched them crunch and munch. And I’ve taken lots of pictures from all angles. Yet, that one day, something shifted in me.
There was one lone visitor that day, and I chose to go out to feed her. After pouring some flavored corn into the usual spot right outside the garage in our backyard, she immediately starting making her way down the hill. Fluffy tail happily flicking, she took a few steps, stopped, watched me, and repeated until she felt uncomfortable coming any closer. I showed respect and chose to head back to the house. When I started to head down the stairs back toward the house, she came a bit closer to the food pile. I took two steps, she took two steps. I paused, she paused. An invisible magnet between us.
I changed my mind, and chose to crouch down on the grass when she approached the corn and began to eat. We were about 5 feet apart. Pretty soon, a cloud of gnats congregated around my head and executed their usual routine of bouncing off my face and aiming for the eyes. My legs began to feel uncomfortable due to the way I was crouching. These are the things that normally would have prompted me to get up and go in. Yet this time, I took note of those thoughts, and just let them go by. I wanted to enjoy being in the presence of this beautiful creature. And I did just that. I sat still. Quietly. Focused on my breathing, my energy. I listened to her breathing in and out with small snorts as she crunched on the corn…little bits falling from her mouth or getting stuck on her nose every now and again. Her large, deep eyes looked up at me from time to time, and when I made eye contact, I made sure I held the space of calm and peace so she’d feel it, too. As I looked at her eyes, I noticed her forehead and all the little bugs that were taking advantage there. I saw her long lashes and for the first time, noticed that her pupils were rectangular! I never knew! In this moment, I truly felt I was bonding with the deer; we were one. I sat there for maybe five minutes soaking up the blissful feeling. My wooded surroundings faded, and it was just the deer and I living in harmony. I made sure I thanked her both silently, and out loud.
Eventually I had to get up and go inside. When I stood up, she backed up a bit and then when I made my way down, she decided to head back up into the woods. When I got back in, I suddenly felt different- a sudden shift. Before I knew it, I was crying as I told Dave about the experience. He told me he was watching and didn’t want to disturb me. At first, I wasn’t sure why I was crying…was it the energy? The bond? I think it was both. Yet more importantly, it was my realization that I had been completely, wholeheartedly mindful and…patient.
Patience doesn’t come naturally for me. I’ve been exploring my impatience lately, contemplating its roots in my childhood. Perhaps it’s because of being an only child? I’d often spend a lot of time in my head, and then suddenly want interaction. I’d go ask my dad if we could do something…go outside and play catch, go for a bike ride, play a game…anything! If he was hesitant, soon the asking turned to begging (with a hint of annoyed whining). Not having a lot of friends to just call up or walk to their house compounded the issue. And let’s not forget there were countless days I’d be sitting at a table next to a bar, or just down my aunt’s house wondering when it was time to leave, not understanding the concept of consuming alcohol. (Like, just chug it! Come on! I want to go and do something and I don’t want to do anything alone!)
I asked my Gram recently if I was exceptionally impatient when I was little, and she animatedly told a story about how I couldn’t stand losing a game like the classic Chutes and Ladders or Old Maid, and how I’d stomp my feet and tell her mid-game it’s not fair. Got it Gram. Thanks for the reminder.
As an adult, in the past four years or so, my deeper impatience would kick in when considering my purpose and comparing myself to Dave and Dave’s friends who of course are very much 10+ years older than me. Their skills, talents, etc. outnumber mine like tenfold. Naturally, I want to hurry up and be like them! I want all the skills! Yesterday.
When I really think about it, actually it’s pretty obvious, that I’ve come a long way since moving in with Dave and starting to discover myself. It’s been a process, as it should be, everything in its own timing. I have learned more than I ever thought I would. I have a skill that I turned into a job that I love and am consistently making money with. Everyday! And with that, I am still searching for another skill, something in the metaphysical realm that I potentially turn into a service for others. This desire probably has been arising more strongly at this point because a) I feel I have hit this personal plateau of inner transformation and b) I am constantly surrounded by people who have numerous skills and have created one or more businesses out of them.
So here’s where the universe is nudging me; patience has to kick in. Here’s where I feel I’m supposed to be meditating more, being still, silent, searching for whatever answers are within me. Yet another step along the path of growing, developing, transforming. In essence, there’s never really a plateau. Life is about the journey, not the destination. There’s nowhere to get to and nothing to be. We need to just…be!
And so, right now, I am creating that possibility of being patient. In all situations. No matter the circumstances. Without excuses. I know my mind and my body will thank me for it! And I know I’ll be able to tune in to nature with brighter clarity and discover.
When you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing!