“Those are some blue eyes you’ve got there, young lady,” she said softly.
“The better to see you with,” I replied.
What am I seeing and what are others seeing in me? How would my perception of my world change if sight left the equation?
I met a man at Esalen a few years ago. His name was Buddy. Buddy was blind from birth. He wore those naked shoes, the kind with toes that have a thin rubber sole that forms to your foot. He told me they had made a big difference in his feeling of security when he walks. Buddy has a blind person’s cane for feeling in front of him but he doesn’t use it much.
The first day he arrived his friend who worked in the kitchen and had guested him on campus took him into the lodge after it was closed so he could feel his way around without any people to deal with. He memorized the placement of the tables and benches, the serving tables, the drink bar and the rest rooms. The next day he was navigating by himself without his cane. I was pretty impressed!
He was eating alone so I sat next to him and introduced myself. In the course of our conversation I learned that he had lived in St. Louis (so had I) and we knew common neighborhoods. I also learned that he was a massage therapist (so am I) and we made plans to do a trade. I don’t know what attracted me to this man at first, perhaps I was so blown away by his independence. He seemed fearless to me. By the end of lunch, with a goodly portion in his beard, I had a found a friend. Enough so that I offered to clean the salad from his beard which got a laugh and welcomed “go for it!”
For the rest of the week Buddy and I hung out. I gave him a CranioSacral treatment and he gave me a massage. His ability to sense tension in my body and know how and where to touch was exquisite. We enjoyed each other’s company. We shared stories and I was continually educated about what life is like without eyes. Not really different from life with eyes!
“How can that be?” I asked him.
As best I can recall, this is what he told me. “We come into this world with varying degrees of sensitivity to our environment. We “read” our surroundings with our senses. You and I are sitting here in the same environment. The fact that you can see and I cannot doesn’t change our environment. I am probably hearing and smelling things that you are not. You are seeing things that I am not. We are both taking in information about our surroundings which is influencing us. We make choices in part based on what we perceive from our environment. My choices and yours may differ because of something you see that I don’t…or something I hear that you don’t. None of that really matters in the end. What matters are peace of mind and feelings of joyousness. These don’t come from sight. They come from insight. They come from gratitude for life in all its forms regardless of the challenges we face.”
I am inspired to be grateful whenever Buddy comes to my mind…not grateful that I can see…grateful that I met him. Ironic this, that a blind man helped me see the world more clearly and live more fearlessly.
Blessings on you, Sweet Buddy, wherever you are.
I used to pride myself in my ability to maintain order. My house was neat with no clutter. My mantra was “everything has a home” and it was my job to find a home for each thing I owned and make sure if it wasn’t being used it was “home.”
This kind of orderliness has its advantages. I can always find what I need. I can relax and admire the beauty of the order I have created in the few moments it occasionally exists. While I was living alone it was easy. When I’m sharing a home it’s more challenging…in fact it’s a job that takes a lot of time. Getting your space mates to buy into your compulsion to have everything in strict order is impossible if they don’t already own that particular behavior pattern.
The worst aspect of this lifestyle is I can never relax at home. There is always something that “needs to be done.” If I sit and look around there is going to be at least one thing that is not in its home. The feeling that is created in me is a state of unease, and the sense that I need to “fix” it.
My home is in a state of chaos at the moment. I have been traveling a lot for the past few months and I am also building a retreat center here at my home. The combination of not being here to try to keep order and the influx of people and materials is creating a lot of disorder. I cannot keep up with it.
Something in me is shifting. I am moving into a level of acceptance for this chaos. I can’t say I am enjoying it but it isn’t making me crazy. I can look at a room that is in need of cleaning and organization and see it as a work in progress…and that is okay with me. It doesn’t all have to be done now!
I would never have allowed guests to come and stay with me in this state of chaos in the past but two friends just left and another has arrived and I am not worried about what they are thinking about my big mess. I don’t care. It doesn’t seem important anymore.
I have relaxed and slowed down. I am allowing life to sort itself out without feeling as if I am the one who has to do the sorting. In the midst of the disorder and chaos, I am keeping calm and stillness inside myself. I am scheduling my priorities rather than working my way down a to-do list. I am rejecting old patterns and the ways I was domesticated. I think chaos is being myself.
I am reminded of a quote by Francis Ford Coppola, the renowned film director. He said, “Anything you build on a large-scale or with intense passion invites chaos.” I am building something on a large-scale with intense passion so there we have it! I just brought a kind of order to my disorder by hearing that.
My favorite shrink, Carl Jung, said, “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” I’m going with that!
Sitting here at my laptop in the morning darkness is becoming my routine. Yet within this predictable experience the exceptional keeps happening. I relish a paradox. Show me an enigma and I will delight at the irony and oxymoronic nature of it. This morning is all about the common holding the extraordinary.
I am wondering where this is going…it feels as if it has to do with the BIG contradiction I feel all the time. I use the word “domestication” a lot lately. I learned it from don Miguel Ruiz. The paradox I am referring to is that I was taught (i.e.: domesticated) that there is something wrong with me, that I am imperfect…broken…implying that something in me needs to be fixed. The “truth” I have come to is that there is not! There is nothing to do, nothing to fix. My perceived “imperfections” are within the perfection of “all.”
Suzanne uses the term “widen your lens” in her teachings. When my lens is narrow and I turn it on myself I see every “wrinkle, scar and pimple” and they look less than perfect. I see my deficiencies and all that I am not. But when I widen my lens enough, something uncommon appears. I perceive myself as a part of something larger that has no limitations or imperfections. I feel a sense of awe as I see the abundance that is here. I feel freedom in the observation of myself as a part of something that I don’t need to seek to change.
Accepting who I am and what is happening in each moment without thinking, “and this would be better if only…” is freedom from needing to do anything. Non-acceptance is always a form of suffering no matter what it is I am not accepting. It is the trap that keeps me “doing” something to “make it better.”
Acceptance of “what is” is freedom, no matter what it is I am accepting.
When I have compassion for hating myself for all my perceived “wrinkles, scars and pimples”, when I have compassion for “all that I am not” I have stopped hating myself. In that moment of compassion for my “failings” I am loving myself. In that moment of loving myself, nothing needs to be changed. If nothing needs to be changed, I am free.