I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Finding loving kindness

A forest of kindness in Oriental lilies

I love these beautiful and fragrant lilies. Most days since winter, I've walked past them in a nearby garden, where they have emerged from little green shoots sticking out of the ground to their inevitable fruition as startlingly beautiful tall flowers. Such abundance and smell, too! Did you know that lilies represent kindness and love?
A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. —Amelia Earhart

I like to think of how much difference each little act of kindness and generosity can make in the world today. Instead of concentrating on all the terrible news of the world, I will instead make a conscious effort to look out from my eyes at all the wonderful acts of kindness from others that I see all around me.

From the first early light of the day yesterday, I could see that we are indeed entering another phase of warm weather. Not as hot as some places, but warm enough that I need to make an effort to stay comfortable and out of the direct sun. It's interesting to note what a difference I feel between standing in a shady spot or standing in the direct sunlight. If a tree's shade makes that much difference to me, how can I doubt that a small act of kindness might alter the entire world? Like Amelia reminds us in the quote above, it throws out roots in all directions. It just takes time.

Although it seems often like time is standing still, it doesn't ever really stop. Being alive takes us on this journey from one state to the next, with no way to change the trajectory (except for one). Once I was a little girl, and now I am an old woman. There was no discernible boundary between these two very different states, but here I am, unable to return to my former state. But there are many sages that say time is an illusion and doesn't really exist at all. 

Abhijit Naskar, the author of Love, God & Neurons: Memoir of a scientist who found himself by getting lost said, “Time is basically an illusion created by the mind to aid in our sense of temporal presence in the vast ocean of space. Without the neurons to create a virtual perception of the past and the future based on all our experiences, there is no actual existence of the past and the future. All that there is, is the present.” I've only read the first chapter of his book so far, but I find it fascinating.

Okay, then. If there is only the present, if I plant a seed of kindness, how will it come to fruition? Well, that's easy: if the present moment is all that really exists, it's already there in full flower! We cannot help but be in it, and I see that my acts of kindness have already borne fruit. If this sounds confusing to you, you're not alone. I'm again flailing around in search of the meaning of time itself. We've been here before on previous Sunday musings. And every time I find a book that challenges my views, you are the recipient of my mental wanderings. 

In another book I mentioned here recently, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, she tells the story of a young girl who writes a diary that somehow gets into Ruth's hands, and it seems as though the girl might have been a victim of the tsunami that devastated many countries in the Indian Ocean in 2004. More than a quarter of a million people perished, and Ruth finds a freezer bag that washed up on the shore of her Pacific Northwest island. Inside she finds the diary, a watch, and some letters written in Japanese. The story is fascinating to me, because Ruth tells of a dream that altered the past and the future. Now that I have read this book twice, I still find myself remembering and pondering some parts of it. Can we really change the past?

Since nobody really knows what life is truly all about, or whether or not we are stuck in time, or whether it exists at all, my mind goes a little crazy thinking about it. I have always loved stories about time travel, and science fiction, so my imagination is taking me to a world where loving kindness is prevalent and is sending up new shoots of kindness everywhere, creating whole trees of joy. Why not?

A world that I can imagine like that might possibly be one that I can enter in my dreams, or maybe I can make it come into my daily life just by continuing to plant those seeds. It fills me with happiness to concentrate on how I might help this new world come into being, and part of my ability to create it starts from the words I'm writing right here, right now. People have been industriously creating a world that is filled with strife, but what if we could just stop it in its tracks and change it to one filled with rainbows? Oh, right: rainbows appear after a storm, don't they? I guess we'll need a little storm now and then to create rainbows.

Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and will be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away. —Abraham Lincoln

Everybody needs a challenge now and then, don't you think? I'm going to attempt to change the trajectory of the world just by the power of my mind. Can it be done? There is only one way to find out. When I sit in meditation this morning, I am going to imagine that I am helping to create loving kindness radiating out in all directions. You might actually find yourself caught up in it, too, and if so, by all means come on over and sit next to me. Together we can do anything.

Well, in any event, we will make a difference just by living in love and joy, rather than despair and defeat. My dear husband is still sleeping quietly next to me as I write, and the day ahead is beckoning. How much difference can I make in my day? Let's find out! Whatever your week brings you, I know there will be love surrounding you, because we are creating it. Until next week, dear friends, be well.


Debbie V. said...

I love your posts. It's like an infusion of life for me. I get your ideas about time.

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

You are a beautiful writer and I enjoy every one of your posts. So Inspiring and insightful. I find the concept of no past, future, and only the present difficult but have rad many books that explain it.. but I still struggle with it.

Anvilcloud said...

You draw a nice n=analogy with flowers, shade and kindness.

It us suer, steamy hot here today, but it’s only a 2-day heat wave this time. We are really getting into August, so future heat waves mat not be quite so hot.

Arkansas Patti said...

I totally believe in the contagion of kindness. I am hoping your efforts today have a butterfly effect on many more who might be struggling.

Linda Reeder said...

The lilies are so beautiful, but as a grower of a few lilies myself, I know that they have a life cycle. From shoot to stem to bud to flower they emerge to beauty and then slowly begin to fade. As old blooms fade new ones are opening from fat buds along the stem. Eventually their time runs out, but left in place the foliage turns golden before their winder demise.

Humans fortunately have, hopefully, a much longer life cycle of birth and growth and repeated blooming before we reach our golden stage. But time matters, at least to me. Now that my blooms are fading, I find that the most significant thing I can do with my time is BE KIND! Spreading smiles and sometimes laughter really works to bring the "golden: into my life as well as to others. If I can get a smile out of an overworked clerk or waiter or other service person it makes my day.
As you can see, your post once again stimulated my brain. That too is an act of kindness for me.

Far Side of Fifty said...

It has been a rough week, I am not feeling better as fast as I want! Discouraged for sure...it all takes time I guess. I am not yet at the despair part. I will work on the joy and kindness part:)

Elephant's Child said...

HOORAY for kindness, and the beauty that grows with it. Thank you for this reminder. So much.

ApacheDug said...

DJan, I confess that some of your metaphysical columns can scoot over the top of my head, but I get the jist here. You seem to have your own spires of goodness (like a copper Sun wall hanging) and they do inspire me to do and feel the same. By the way, I especially like that Amelia Earhart quote. 🙂

John's Island said...

One of the things I admire about you is your ability to put together an interesting post every Sunday morning without fail. I really don’t know how you do it. It takes me a couple of weeks just to put one post together and it’s always a challenge to get it all finished and decide when to hit the “Publish” button. I’ve been following Eye for years because you almost always write about something that interests me. Recently, you’ve been giving me some good books to add to my Kindle library. I’m almost finished with Ruth’s book and have found it fascinating. Lastly, I love the Lincoln quote. So true! Hope you and SG have a good week ahead.

Gigi said...

"I'm going to attempt to change the trajectory of the world just by the power of my mind. Can it be done?"

Yes, I'd like to think so. I think the majority of us would like to make the world a better place and the only way to do that is to take steps to spread kindness and love around; which you do on a daily basis...and that, my friend, makes the world a better place.

Galen Pearl said...

I had to smile at your question about whether we can change the past. I joked recently that I have lived many versions of my childhood. Enjoyed your musings, as always.

Rian said...

DJan, I too think there is power in thought and prayer. How to harness that power may be as simple as believing. I often think of the words in the song, 'Amazing Grace' ("how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed"). Meditation is one way, but simply being kind, thinking and praying for each other, for good to win over evil, etc. I think there will be rainbows... but it may be necessary to get through the storm first.

William Kendall said...

Very wisely said.

We had a cold front blow through a couple of days ago. It's considerably cooler now.