Beginners Mind

We all have our demons. For some, it’s thoughts that cycle endlessly. Others are awash in images moving rapidly across the inner vision like a series of frames. Like gazing directly into the morning sun and seeing orbs burned into whatever else one is looking at for awhile afterward, dwelling on any frame for long pollutes the present with its memory. Concepts and sensory impressions are how the mind archives, yet can prevent presence in each teachable moment in the present.

I have witnessed a humpback whale breach fully out of the water at close range; summoned a full grown female moose who, in the end, got too close for comfort. I have swum with giant mantas and screeching, flapping loons who veered so close I glimpsed their fiery red eyes and the glossy ebony feathers that redefined the color black forever. I have observed shades of evening sky that defy an artist’s palette, gazed at a billion stars and constellations while floating for hours on my back inside a lone canoe on a crystal pond. I have watched northern lights descend like a final curtain, undulating for hours in brilliant prismatic hues. I’ve danced with fireflies like stars lighting up acres of fields on a summer’s night. An early morning walk once gifted me with a rare fisher cat and her two babies as well as a young black bear emptying bird seed from each of our feeders as casually as a drunk in a dumpster. I once cared for a horse who let me sit in her stall while she gave birth; I have attended the nativity of a tiny human being.

It’s not like I didn’t gasp with wonder when these events were happening, yet only in hindsight did I realize just how profound each experience had been. Perhaps this is how memory sustains throughout life’s most challenging aspects. Yet to dwell in what has passed even a moment ago is to live in a place that no longer exists. Right here, right now is potent with possibilities. Again and again, this wanderer returns home to the present.


27 thoughts on “Beginners Mind

  1. Demons demand their ransom and we learn to push them away, the awakening may be slow but we do learn the talking tricks to convince them that their power can be mitigated, their fear is transitory and we can snatch that power!
    All those images you mention are formidable Bela…yes, unique learning moments …the best one is dancing with the fireflies…so exhilarating!!

    1. I love the way you describe your relationship with the demons or nemeses in life, Balroop! 😀 And so glad you enjoyed my firefly dance, though it happened many years ago. Still, it was a seasonal occurrence for 34 years of my life, and one does not easily forget such magic. Blessings, dear one ❤

  2. I have witnessed many spectacles in my travels as well. 🙂 It is but some of what makes us what and who we are.

    Great post celebrating the things in life that many people miss.

    1. I’m so glad you’ve had these magical experiences – it really does deepen our experience of the world, I think.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on this post. Blessings on the day! Aloha ❤

  3. So beautiful, your post. Reminds me of:

    A wind rose, quickening; it invaded my nostrils, vibrated my gut. I stirred and lifted my head. No, I’ve gone through this a million times, beauty is not a hoax… Beauty is real. I would never deny it; the appalling thing is that I forget it.

    ~ Annie Dillard, The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New (Ecco, March 15, 2016)

    Aloha Bela.

    1. Yes, I like Dillard and her psalms to nature. This is one I hadn’t passed eyes over, so thanks for this. And for the comparison. It’s so interesting how each of us moved to express our love of this amazing planet do so in our own unique ways. I used to think myself inadequate to the task, but now it feels we all sing Mother Nature’s praises to the heavens, so what harm in adding my voice to the choir? Aloha, David ❤

  4. This is such an emotionally and visually captivating post, Bela. True that we all have our demons – we’re not perfect all the time and there will be times when we disappoint ourselves. But life is not always about ourselves and I like how you take moments to appreciate what’s around you and not forever focusing on yourself. Very lucky that you got to see the northern lights, and I agree with Balroop – dancing with fireflies sounds like a real treat. I’m guessing the night is nothing to be feared when you are doing just that with your firefly friends…they show you the light, and metaphorically speaking, it is others and the world around us that will guide us along the way we are going 🙂

    1. Mabel, you’ve summarized one of my most-spoken thoughts in your comment, “Nobody is that special!” This in response to those who feel as though the world revolves around them in a world that sustains over seven billion souls and counting. I can barely manage my own small existence, day to day. The earth deserves far better than we humans give it, and perhaps one day she will call in her debts from humanity, poor stewards that most of us are.

      I find nothing whatever to fear from the earth and sky, day or night, in calm or storm. It’s the humans that are the wild cards. And yet I love people, just find myself a bit intolerant of ignorance when we have so much to lose.

      Many thanks as always, Mabel, for your thoughtful eyes on my words. It’s such a blessing to have you in this wp community! ❤

      1. So true that the world is not just for one person. While I think no one is that special, I also think that we are all special in our own ways. We all have our struggles and we also have our triumphs too – and we can all learn from each other. I like how your comments section reflect this, and how wonderfully you engage wit hall of us 🙂 ❤

  5. What a wonderful collection of memories each one a precious gift, to be remembered in wonder as we cast our minds back to bring it forth from the past to the present..
    I have been doing alot of that type of thinking myself recently too Bela.. And last evening I recalled my last home.. walking through the rooms seeing the furnishings and the children’s toys scattered on the floor as if it were yesterday.. I had not been able to recall it in so much detail before..

    Your own recall you described so clear, I felt your exhilaration .. And yes it is only often only in hindsight how we look back to those gifts given..

    We spend so much time in recalling the past, and yearning for the future. Seldom do we Live in the Gift of NOW.. The Present..

    I am learning that with each passing day, as we experience our Autumn years, those Now Moments become so much more precious..

    I hope we are more mindful of our NOW moments and what our NOW moments are leading us to in our Future ones.. For one day we will look back to our Now and wish we had paid more attention..

    Love and Blessings dear Bela.. a beautiful piece of writing dear friend.. Take care.
    Love Sue ❤ xxx

    1. Ahh, Sue! Just found your comment – somehow missed it before, sorry. And yes, the trick of the mind is to keep vascillating between past and future, over and over again, as if we can do anything about either one! Living in the Now is easier at times, then it becomes difficult as monkeywrenches are tossed into the best laid plans. Someone comes back into our lives or perhaps for the first time, someone else dies, be it human or animal. I find it much easier to deal with the cycles in nature rather than human drama. I feel like Rodney King’s statement keeps surfacing in my inner dialogue, ‘Why can’t we all just get along?’ Why, indeed. Life is too short to be petty or selfish, but there you go. We live in crazy times, and while the most loathesome qualities are exhibited by our world leaders these days, how can we expect others to behave differently? And yet.

      So on I go as do you, into our gardens or our gardens of memory and ponder the sacred miracles of life and the extraordinary gifts of Mother Nature. What else to do but to record beauty? Aloha, dear Sue, and thanks so much, as always, for your kind words. ❤

  6. I’m in awe, what beautiful experiences. But while I watch the birds queuing for time in the bird bath today, I wonder if they are any less miraculous as I see them so regularly than the breeching of a humpback whale. I like your timely reminder to appreciate the here and now.

    1. Aww, thanks! I don’t think the tiny bird of unknown origin who flitted amongst the crotons yesterday was any less of a miracle than the breaching humpbacks, no. By the time my husband snuck his iPhone out of his pocket on my request to capture an image of it, of course the little miracle was gone … all Chris could think of was the Red-billed Leothrix, and perhaps he was right – as I look the species up just now online, I notice there are at least a couple of color variables I’ve not seen before. But you know, your point that what’s familiar seems less fantastic somehow is one I think many of us struggle with. Be it birds or life partners or Spinner Dolphins, we do seem to become inured to whatever fills our eyes on a daily basis. My own ‘cure’ is to notice things about those same wonders that I hadn’t seen before; even unto personalities in individual Mynah birds, as an example. Or the ongoing understanding between me and our little cattle dog. Mindfulness, in any case, seems prudent 😉 Thanks for your kind comments, Safar! Aloha.

  7. “. . . only in hindsight did I realize just how profound each experience had been.” — Yes, I get that Bela. I wonder if it perhaps is the total immersion in the immediacy of the moment that relegates whatever-it-means to something be decided later? It seems to me there’s sense that ‘this moment is deeply significant’, but it takes time to integrate it, to contextualise it, to allow for its reification into a seminal experience to occur. Absolutely beautiful writing, as ever. H ❤

    1. Mahalo, Hariod. Yes, I wonder at wonder and how it is that something profound and even miraculous is quickly relegated to the sort and file bin … reminds me of the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld where the chef keeps on repeating, ‘NEXT!’ I mean, really? I’d like to think I’m not so shallow as to discount such events altogether, so your suggestions make sense. These events continue to emerge from memory to inform all I do, think and say. So they are not lost, nor is their impact. Still, I’m given to wonder at the generation I grew up in that just kept looking to get higher and higher. Was this stretching of human awareness needed, and this was one way to provoke the collective into expanding it? Is this tendency to (trivialize? categorize?) the numinous something that has always existed in human consciousness but most people were too busy surviving to pay homage to it in the moment (and why shamanic ceremonies persisted …)? Maybe you have some thoughts on this matter … If not, enjoy the rest of your week, and big hugs to you across the waves! Aloha ❤

      1. Hmm, I don’t know if I’m in much of a state to tackle those big questions currently, Bela, as I’m down with a virus and missing half a brain — then again, I doubt I have any cogent answers in any case. I do know that sometimes, certain character types, when having a profound ‘spiritual’ experience, will get it, and just say to themselves, “Oh, it’s that”, as if not yet registering the impact that will have on their future psyche or what a revolutionary thing it was that just happened — all they know is that it was what they were looking for but had never realised the exact form it would take when it occurred. Other types may collapse to their knees and shed tears, but I doubt if it’s because they have any clue how their future world has shifted forever. I think that can be the danger of reading anecdotal accounts of Satori moments, as we can easily presume that ours has to be something like the author’s. So we go fishing for the some exotic experience we’ve read about, and yet perhaps for us if and when it finally happens it’s not that far removed from a shoulder-shrug moment, “Ah, there it is.” I gave up second guessing my emotional responses ages ago because I was always guessing wrongly! Aloha. ❤

      2. Agreed, yes, it’s subjective, isn’t it – each person might respond differently, though you have reminded me of the concept of Satori, thanks for re-energizing my vocabulary with that lovely word. I wonder if some of us have many such experiences over a lifetime. Perhaps it’s only that I need a constant reminder to remain, there’s more to learn here, something like that – remember it’s all illusion and that’s the miracle, the ability to ground (sometimes grand) illusion into the physical realm. Then again, I’m sure by the end of my life, I will know absolutely nothing. Sometimes it simply comes down to this, “When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” Buddha or not, someone perceived something of Divine Mind.

        So sorry you’re feeling under the weather. I sincerely hope you are on the road to wellness soon! Love ❤

      3. Oh yes, I’m with you on the ‘knowing nothing’ business. There’s little as disturbing as meeting someone who thinks they’ve got everything worked out. As if it ever could be so! I think we’re here just to accept life and ourselves and be at ease with all of it, to be contented (though not necessarily happy) in everything that occurs, just see it all as awareness putting on a private show for this little fool called ‘me’. What does it mean to ‘understand’ in any case? I’m not sure, to me it’s all shifting sands, sliding floors, relative. I’d start to worry if I ever thought I knew anything absolutely.

        Love your new avatar, by the way! ❤

      4. Aww, thanks! (Avatar). Taken recently by one of my youngest daughter’s good friends. I do love a good, deep, hearty laugh that has me dissolving into tears. Whenever I get in the company of these young women, it’s easy to do 😉

        Love your phrase ‘this little fool called me.’ If only those most ignorant of their fool-dom knew just how deep was their illusion … Anyhow, on with the day – many blessings to you! ❤

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