The word ‘acquiescence’ often carries a negative connotation – a sense that a person is reluctantly giving in – but it’s interesting that the word derives from the Latin word for ‘quiet’, which offers a fresh perspective on it. When I acquiesce to whatever’s happening in my life, perhaps I’ve simply decided to settle into a quiet posture of acceptance. Perhaps it implies embracing even the worst situations with calmness and respectfulness, and then studying them and trying to learn from them. Rather than necessarily suggesting a submissive attitude, acquiescence may actually stem from understanding that saying yes to the universe’s plans for me can prepare the way for a wider kind of wisdom. I may not always love what’s happening in my life, but bowing to it can bring the inner quietness and light that learning something new often produces. I might even drop the ‘a’ in the word. Perhaps I want to keep the quiescent kind of life I seem to have fallen into, a life marked, not by the sluggishness that sometimes shows up in retirement, but by a powerful kind of peacefulness, which often can come from just accepting what’s happening. I guess I’ve slowly learned to extend a welcome to problems instead of opposing them, partly because acceptance is simply more restful than resistance, but also because working with a problem instead of against it seems to make my old life, in little and large ways, more triumphant day by day. Back in my youthful 50’s, I was often stressed and frenzied from fighting with problems, but now, in my fairly hassle-free 80’s, I’m putting out a quiet hand of welcome to trouble, just to see what possibilities it might present.
Going along, you can get to a place
where peace can prepare feasts for
finding you rest in every moment,
making your life like a lighthearted
and holy and endless event.
A silent signal is sent out each moment,
to choose to let go
and to give.
I believe, without question, that today will be perfect for me. Certainly there may be disappointments and difficulties, even sadness, but in the midst of whatever is happening – the closing of a car door, the tapping of my fingers on the computer keyboard, footsteps passing by – there will always be, without fail, the boundless and flawless present moment. A moment may not seem perfect, but, as the saying goes, each moment ‘is what it is’ and can’t be anything else – so it needs to be accepted and studied and learned from. What is happening right here and now undoubtedly can’t be changed right here and now, so my best approach to whatever happens today is simple acceptance. Then, I would surely have the power of unlimited presence with me as I move toward seeing adverse situations slowly blossom into peace and commonplace perfection.
I have spent a good part of my 80 years ‘preferring’ – liking one thing better than another. I prefer sunny days over cloudy, scrambled eggs over fried, summer over winter. I would much rather have a healthy-feeling head than a headache, and I definitely favor money in the bank over being broke. This is perfectly normal – and perfectly appropriate – but there’s another way to live that’s also appealing, and I’m enjoying it in these very likable elder years. It’s called ‘accepting’, or maybe ‘whatever-ing’. I’m loving, more and more, being able to say ‘whatever’ when faced with the possibility of sunshine or rain, success or failure, pain or pleasure. I guess I’m learning from trees and squirrels and chickadees as they casually accept winds and storms and sunbeams, and – no matter what – carry on their lives with liveliness. Come what may, I’m better able, now, to patiently say ‘whatever’. I think it has actually made me more capable of doing what needs to be done in dire circumstances. Instead of resisting and swearing and pouting when I don’t get ‘my way’ – when life doesn’t do what I would prefer it to do – I’m able to hold out my hands and greet the next moment and ask, “What would you prefer?” Trees bend when strong breezes blow, and I’m better, now, at bending, with an easygoing senior-citizen smile, when undesirable winds pass through my days.
In a world that sometimes seems utterly unstable, it’s good to realize that there is, in fact, a power that is always secure and steady, always here for me to take quiet comfort in – the invincible and reliable present. It’s true. The present – right here and right now – is always with me. It’s not sometimes here, and sometimes not here. No matter what is happening, no matter how shaky and worrisome things might seem, there is a place of absolute security close at hand – as near as right here and right now. What’s wonderful to consider is that the kingdom of the present knows no boundaries. It’s a sovereignty that extends everywhere and forever. If I try to discover where the present ends, I always find only the present again and again, stretching out into boundless space. It’s spread out farther than stars and planets, and it’s also right next to me, and inside me – always a steadfast friend. In times of turmoil, all I need to do is pause and once again feel the security of being present with the present – being right here and now, completely secure in a reality that is always just itself, always boundaryless, always just what it must be, and therefore always perfect.
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Thursday, November 25, 2021
I would like to be careless today.
I know the word ‘careless’ carries mostly negative meanings, suggesting recklessness and negligence, but I’m thinking of it as simply meaning less care – fewer worries and fears and regrets. The kind of carelessness I’m speaking of is the kind I imagine winds having as they blithely blow among trees in a forest, or rivers as they casually sweep over stones and around boulders and among downed trees. This is the kind of carelessness that could carry me along as easily as clouds are carried across the sky, or as hours unceremoniously pass by from dawn to dark. Maybe today I could say “I don’t care” more often, as in “I don’t care if I’m always happy today”, or “I don’t care if I get what I want”. Maybe my kind of carelessness simply means stepping aside and caring less about what happens and more about simply observing, understanding, and appreciating what happens. Maybe the carelessness I’m speaking of is about simply accepting life rather than scuffling with it.
I want to work hard today and be watchful and sympathetic, but I would also like to be with life in a care-less and lighthearted way, just letting it flow – and learning all I can from the flow.
And here’s a poem from a few years back on a similar theme …
A FLUID AND GRACEFUL DAY
One day, everything seemed large,
like large-scale love,
like a sizable breakout from ordinariness --
a substantial present
presented, it seemed, just to him.
There were considerable blessings everywhere,
and ample profits full of pleasure,
and expansive ideas spreading everywhere,
and fluidly and gracefully flowing
Some lovely dried leaves seen on our walk this morning …
And our newly reorganized sunroom …
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Today will be perfectly prepared for me. Each moment will be all set to show me exactly what I need to be shown, completely equipped to present the appropriate wonders and miracles. 5:02 a.m. and 9:25 a.m. and 2:31 p.m. and 8:23 p.m. will be ready and waiting for me when I arrive. All the thousands of moments today will be available for me, on hand to help me experience the mysteries of life. Even sad moments, even strained and strenuous ones, will be poised to present precisely what I need to see and hear and feel.
And I also want to be prepared. I want to be willing to accept whatever this day is waiting to offer me. I want to be entirely ready to meet the moment-by-moment surprises as they appear, geared up to get the most out of each and every hour. I want to be sharp and shrewd, primed to appreciate what this day will present to me.
Today, like all of them, is ready and eager to teach me, and I hope I’ll be keen, discerning, and well-prepared to learn.
And here’s a slideshow of scenes from our walk in Elm Grove Cemetery this morning … and our chalkboard poem for today …
In my experience, a lot of guys get satisfaction from saying something like “I can do this, man!” It might be “I can lift this 100 pound weight!”, or “I can climb this mountain!” or “I can do the Boston Marathon in my wheelchair!” However, I don’t recall hearing a guy shout something like “I can accept failure!” or “I can handle being hurt!” Many males of my generation grew up with the idea that toughness means always defeating something – overcoming a towering obstacle, or beating incredible odds, or crushing some enemy or other. Life is a battle, we were taught, and better to take the winner’s ribbon than the loser’s shame. Luckily, in my 79 years I’ve slowly learned a different definition of male toughness. I’ve seen that there can be as much heroism in defeat as in victory, as much gallantry in welcoming and learning from loss as in taking pride in triumph. Growing up, I was taught that being vulnerable was a sign of male weakness, but now I see that there’s bravery in staying open to being hurt, in allowing myself to live, and learn from, a full life, complete with big wins and ruinous losses. Guys who accept vulnerability with poise are prepared for a gallant kind of victory. Men who can make honest failure a badge to wear and a teacher to learn from have the truest kind of toughness.
IN TOUGH, FL, USA
In Tough, Florida,
the mornings are always resilient,
ready to take your troubles
for a carefree stroll by the shore.
Freedom, in this stout town,
is found even in every problem,
even inside the prison of sorrow.
Even weakness is indestructible in Tough.
The frailest hospital patient
can carry fear like it's a little feather,
and old, wobbly people
are as powerful as the stalwart surf.
If you think life is harsh,
come to Tough
and see how unbreakable kindness is,
how sturdy and solid patience can be.