Last night, as I lying awake in bed and feeling a little frustrated because I hadn’t yet fallen asleep, for some reason the idea of the friendliness of everything came to mind. Strange – I was tossing and turning and getting increasingly upset because of my sleeplessness, and yet at the same time I was being visited by the beautiful sense of the neighborliness of the entire universe! In the midst of my temporary and annoying insomnia, I felt surrounded by the comradeship of absolutely everything. My wife and devoted companion, Delycia, was beside me, but I knew somehow that the air in the bedroom was also showing affection, as were the walls and windows and the easygoing, sociable darkness outside. I don’t know that I have ever felt such vast and saturating congeniality. Somehow, as I lay wide awake in bed, I was absolutely sure that the universe is a totally convivial and sheltering place. I remember thinking of Delycia’s orchids in our living room, and how utterly companionable they always seem as I sit near them – how they lovingly welcome me no matter what I happen to be thinking or feeling. Even worries and sorrows – my lifelong ‘enemies’ – were, I somehow felt, actually full of friendliness and a willingness to assist me in rising up from fear into a sense of the togetherness of all of life.
Yes, I was temporarily sleepless as I lay there beside Delycia, but I was also – I knew – in the center of a completely cordial and comradely universe. I smiled a lot in my wakefulness, and even silently laughed a little.
The word ‘beam’ strikes me as being very useful in understanding the meaning of life. It helps me realize that all of life – the Universe itself – is constructed with incredibly rock-solid beams that reliably hold everything up – everything – more solidly and beautifully than the grandest castles. These are not material beams, made of stone or steel, but the beams of vast, non-material, unassailable substances like love and calmness and courage. Material beams, no matter how sturdy, can bend and break, but what force can defeat the powers of infinite kindness and boundless serenity? Buildings may collapse and cities be blighted, but composure and perseverance can smile and stay quietly steady. Hatred may bark and try to bite, but unconquerable friendliness can always reach out a hand in all-encompassing companionship. Truly, the boundless, non-material beams that forever support life are holding me up right now with unflagging force. I just need to open my eyes and my heart and see how heavy-duty and hard-wearing all of life truly is.
I have often felt ‘kicked’ by life, as if it’s just an old, cruel bully who sometimes hounds me with its fury. Many times in my life, I’ve felt like I was being booted around by situations and people, which often made me start kicking back, as if existence was a constant contest between nasty aggressors. However, in the last few decades of my 81 years, I’ve begun to see that all the fierce kicks life seems to give are actually soft and affectionate, more like easygoing shoves than ferocious whacks. Life, it seems, wants to help me ‘kick’ my habit of nervous, slapdash thinking, and it does this by softly pushing me, with occasional silent punches, toward acceptance, and maybe even some wisdom, and perhaps even spot-on gladness. I guess I should have a grateful attitude toward life – maybe even a feeling of devoted friendship for this enduring friend who sometimes uses kicks called disappointment and sorrow to softly bulldoze me toward insight and understanding. 😊
Today, like all days, will hold me carefully in its friendly arms. I may sometimes feel adrift in a sea of concerns, but all the while this day – part of the life that started cradling me 80 years ago – will be safely enfolding me. Throughout the day, the present moment will always be with me, embracing me within its everlastingness, spreading itself out to its infinite distances so that I can feel the fun of having no boundaries at all. There will probably be moments when confusion may seem to be clasping me tightly, or when fear may appear to be following me, but always – always – the dependable present moment – life itself – will be enveloping me in its vast and trustworthy way. I may even sometimes feel the gracious squeeze of life as it holds me in its welcoming, inescapable arms.
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Saturday, August 7, 2021
The older I get, the more clearly I realize that this life I am part of is thoroughly kind. Even its sorrows and troubles carry kindheartedness with them, quietly blessing us with a little more wisdom. Even a disaster holds helpfulness at its center, allowing us to show the unselfishness that secretly resides in all of us. After hurricanes, the care and consideration of townspeople comes forward in ways unseen before, and forest fires give goodwill a chance to show its hidden abundance in the work of firefighters and ordinary folk. I see sympathy – the universe’s willingness to care for me in countless ways – in every passing moment: my breath reliably coming and going, the dependable labor of my heart, the endless rising of brand new moments as amazing as sunrises. Life is truly my helpful friend, an attentive and friendly force that always stays beside me. Today would be a good day to show my gratitude for this never-ending neighborliness.