True Belonging

 Lake Elsinore, CA

Lake Elsinore, CA

The present moment of your life, when you really stop and notice it, is filled with constantly changing conditions. Of course, there are the changing conditions and situations around you: sights, sounds, smells, people, and so on. None of these lasts. You cannot hold on to them. And also the closer, more intimate experiences - those in your inner life of mind and body - are always in flux. Yet, much of the anxiety in our lives comes from the fact that we cannot hold on to anyone or anything. When things are good, we fear change. We cling to people, trying to assure that they'll never leave. How can we ever live happily knowing that nothing lasts? Perhaps the secret lies in learning how to become more at home, at ease, accepting, and wise about the truth of constant change. 

In the midst of constant change, perhaps what must stop is you? Is it possible that the only thing that could stop is you? Or perhaps, some part of you, a part that can be known, is already stopped and is merely waiting to be found? Could it also be that, when you stop, you notice and appreciate the amazing array of interconnections continuously maintaining your life and linking you with so many others? Learning to look more closely at threads of interconnection and interdependency operating in each moment could become a strategy that supports you in times of stress or loneliness. 

For example, imagine that you are about to eat an apple. As you look closely at the apple, what do you see? How did that apple come to be in your hand?

The apple represents the growth of a seed into a fruit-bearing tree that was nourished by light, moisture, nutrients, and many other things. The tree bore fruit that was picked and prepared by someone and transported somehow to a market or fruit stand, where you likely purchased it with money you had earned from doing something for someone else in another series of relationships. Once the apple is in your hand, the different systems of your own mind and body become involved to bite, chew, swallow, and digest the apple and absorb its nutrients. 

And that is only part of the story. Where did the apple seed come from? How did you learn to do what you did to earn the money to buy the apple? How did you get to the place where you bought the apple? 

On one level, all this can seem like an abstraction, but on another level, if you look deeply enough, can you envision the seed, the sunlight, the workers' touch, and all of the other elements in the long body of events behind the apple you are now holding? Without any one of these elements, the apple would be different or would not be there at all. 

Learning to stop, rest, and flex your view in this particular way - noticing the interconnectedness in experience that is changing every moment - could mean learning how to keep your heart open to any experience, or anyone. 

When you trace the essential elements of life - water, soil, air, sunlight - you begin to see how closely linked you really are with all living things. You share in the sources of life with so many others. 

- Jeffrey Brantley and Wendy Millstine, True Belonging