"The path is not about perfecting the self. The path is about deepening compassion for the self."
Our limited views imprison us. We paint our reality from a palette of color preferences. We live in a large eclectic museum of artists. But if we stand admiring one painting for a lifetime, ours and ours alone, we'll miss multiple opportunities to appreciate other points of view.
I have the great fortune of sharing my life with a husband who constantly challenges my point of view. Our disagreements used to scare me. I was afraid that the cracks in our conversation would form canyons, where the distance would be insurmountable. Any words spoken would not be heard by the other, but echoed back as an internal reverberation of fear.
Hello, hello, hello!!! Is anyone there, there, there???
On a recent hike on the Palomarin Trail in Bolinas, my husband and I stopped for lunch at a clearing off the path. The clearing overlooked a lake dotted at the surface with several lotus blossoms. The scene was perfect, as if I were witnessing a real life version of Monet's Water Lilies.
Until I spotted some Starbucks paper napkins several feet away from us. Suddenly, the perfect painting changed into a picture I no longer wanted to see. Mother Earth's sacred ground was polluted by a careless, ignorant being (or group) who had no regard for anyone but him/herself. I sent some nasty words out to these nameless, faceless beings that was the exact opposite of metta.
My husband watched my self-righteous performance in silence. After some time, he painted some alternative possibilities for me. What if the wind blew the napkins out of a hiker's open back pack? What if a group was having a picnic like we were now, and one of the group members got too close to the edge of the cliff, slipped and fell, while others left in a hurry to find help? What if someone intentionally littered because they had been hardened by life circumstances, and no longer considered anyone or anything sacred? The possibilities were endless.
I looked away from the lotus blossoms. Though I preferred a serene scene sans scattered Starbucks paper napkins, I was beginning to open to other still life possibilities. Once we finished eating and packed up our belongings, I walked over to each napkin and picked it up. I wasn’t the perfect environmentalist or Buddhist practitioner, but a humble being who was given the opportunity to deepen compassion for herself and the being(s) who left the napkins behind.
Our limited views imprison us. We paint our reality from a palette of color preferences. We live in a large eclectic museum of artists. If we walk from one painting to another, we’ll have multiple opportunities to appreciate other points of view. We might even visualize the napkins as a possible part of Monet’s Water Lilies, and get curious about the folks who left them behind.