The power of seeing exactly what is in front of you

There are consequences to not seeing exactly what is in front of me, whether it’s invasive bamboo or human need.

Bamboo-sprouting season has arrived. Practically-speaking, this involves a daily excursion to the rear of our property, Felco pruner in hand, to snip each new shoot flush with the ground. At the peak, I’ll find fifteen or twenty. If I miss a day, the next morning the garden will host a handful of 3-foot “sprouts.” If I miss the next day too, the shoots will have gone from soft to hard – hard enough to require a chain saw to take them down.

The idea here is to hold the line on the advancing edge of this highly invasive bamboo grove, which starts three houses down the block from us, to limit this grass to the helpful windbreak that it offers against storms that most frequently blow in from the northwest.

 

AT TIMES I can look right at a rising stalk of bamboo and miss seeing it, in spite of its distinctive shape and its reddish-brown color standing out among all the shades of spring green.

SOMETIMES we can become so accustomed to a chronic symptom that it disappears from view. It becomes the norm. The way we “normally” feel.

MANY TIMES we can live so deeply from within our own story that we forget it is merely our own way of making order and finding meaning in our lives. We just think: this is the way the world is, the way our life is.

MOST TIMES we forget that what we see through our near-sighted, far-sighted, or color-blind sight is a matter of our own limited vision. We mistake this limited vision for the way the world looks.

AND MOST TIMES we live in a trance of shifting identities. Practice is a means to proactively invite in awakening from this trance. Here are a members of the cast of characters who showed up this week as I practiced inviting in the parts of me that showed up. The lapsed calligrapher and the lapsed dancer. The one who mourns the lapsed dancer. The boundary-crosser. The hit-and-runner. The Wandering Jew. The one who is certain she eats to live and does NOT live to eat. I may instinctively reach for the psycho-spiritual equivalent of my Velcro pruner, but no: every part of me, attractive or no, annoying or no, is invited in to take its place among the whole of me.

Other awakening moments come by grace, gently or fiercely. Life shakes me gently awake with its beauty or poignance. Or my eyes fly open when life hauls me up short or shakes me by the scruff of the neck. Then I remember to question my own narrative so that I can see what is right there – whether it is a fresh bamboo stalk, a skinned knee, my own bogus identity, or a look on the face of a loved one I have failed to meet.

I am needed for bamboo patrol for only three-four weeks. Questioning the ways I impose my story on the world, so that I can tend properly to what is before me: that’s year-round and life-long.

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