It is so easy to slip into negative mind. The culture of commerce conspires to woo us there. What we don’t have. What we need. What we lack. What we’re desperate to buy. What we’re fevered to accomplish. And all the obstacles to satisfaction, the battery of excuse. One can enter the trance of unfulfillment before fully waking into the day. The trance penetrates the energy field and becomes a pattern. A habit as old as time. A hole that can never be filled.
One must constantly work to dismantle that story one tells about how everything was supposed to be as opposed to how it’s turned out, and how one has been cheated out of the promised rewards. One has to set aside those wishes that metastasized into expectations and then disappointments and finally into a grinding resentment about dreams unfulfilled and the way life refused to adhere to the magnificent script one had penned for it.
Lay it down, that putrefying sack. That stinking bundle of discontent. Go, instead, down to the water. Await the moment of grace.
Even when one is alert to it, such a moment always takes you by surprise. You might find yourself, for example, on a train, far from home, sitting amidst people you don’t know. The train has embarked from the bowels of Penn Station on a steamy August afternoon, the whole city sticky and damp, as though licked by the hot, rough tongue of god.
You’re lulled by the heat, by the rocking of the northbound train, indifferent to the concrete caverns through which you pass, blind to the hieroglyphics of graffiti. Perhaps you are calling your machine, or checking your email, or even re-telling yourself the story of your want. Then, without warning, you emerge into a different world, the late afternoon sun on the Hudson River, surrounded by nothing but green.
You enter into a moment in which you are utterly present to sun and sky and trees and grass and river. In this moment you sink more deeply into yourself and remember how simple happiness can be, the sheer act of receiving the world as it is. Allowing the heart to accept a small gift of beauty and bowing to it.
Of course, the moment passes, but it affects all the ones that follow. Even as the train hurtles inexorably northward, even as the man beside you remarks on the next scheduled stop. Even as you consult your watch and your mind strays to imagine what will happen once you disembark, still you are changed. Something has been awakened and it will remain alive to moments still to come: the sight of two deer in a field at dusk, the song of frogs in the wet dark of summer night.