Forget everything

It feels like the world is falling apart. Just last week a derecho smashed everything in its path as it roared through the Midwest. I wrote of my experience of being out running when it hit: Successive high temperature records are broken daily across the western U.S., which is also seeing another round of ferocious wildfires. More tropical storms and hurricanes are expected, powered by rising water temperatures.

The U.S. is more profoundly effected by the coronavius pandemic than any other country in the world because of the utter failure of the Federal government to respond. Our capitalist economy is collapsing as a result.

People are wondering what disaster to expect next. Everyone is searching for ways to return to normal. Many are realizing we never will. More and more of us are realizing what was normal was not good for those who were not privileged. That is an understatement.

So many are struggling to find spiritual support. Massive numbers of people are leaving the churches of organized religions. This may be the greatest problem of all, because paying attention to the Spirit is where the answers are.

“Forget everything — reject everything we have ever been taught or heard or seen and work as though this were the first day on earth and our eyes new opened to the world.
Let the spirit guide — all the time — for every move of the brush and every thought that we follow out.”

Olive Rush 1873-1966, Sante Fe Quaker Artist

My adventures after giving up having a car for over forty years might be a microcosm of how to adapt to what we are going through now. I didn’t think of it this way at the time, but it was a rejection of the car culture. An example of needing to adapt to a different way.

That decision was forced upon me by the leadings of the Spirit. Which was a vision of my beloved mountains hidden behind clouds of air pollution. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t minimize my contribution to the smog.

Although that resulted in many inconveniences in my life, I came to see that inconvenience is not a bad thing. Those inconveniences just meant that it was more difficult to do things in the context of the old normal. What they did was force me to find different ways, what I feel to be better ways.

“Life sometimes is hard. There are challenges. There are difficulties. There is pain. As a younger man I sought to avoid them and only ever caused myself more of the same. These days I choose to face life head on—and I have become a comet. I arc across the sky of my life and the harder times are the friction that lets the worn and tired bits drop away. It’s a good way to travel; eventually I will wear away all resistance until all there is left of me is light. I can live towards that end.”

Richard Wagamese, Embers

My “eyes new opened to the world.” Without a car life slowed down. I spent more time in nature as I walked, bicycled and ran. Rather than zooming around, enclosed in a car, separated from nature. I was able to interact with people, and commune with all that is not human.

The more I paid attention as I walked, the more I saw. Carrying my camera with me helped me appreciate the beauty around me. The more I looked, the more was revealed.

My Spirit expanded as I moved in the quiet, as I expressed my gratitude for what I was seeing and feeling. I became better at letting “the spirit guide–all the time.”

Looking and listening were for me ways of quieting my mind, teaching it to not think, breaking habits of thought like: what to do? where to go? But after awhile, looking and listening became something much more; I came to see and to hear the world, existence, more and more acutely. The more I watched and listened, the more I saw and heard, more keenly, more distinctly.
Every day I gained more and more pleasure from this listening and looking, always seeing and hearing more clearly. As time went on, I appreciated how glorious and beautiful existence is, living. I saw how busy, preoccupied were most people with doing, making. Existence was already so much to enjoy, so grand and lovely, so exquisite. Just to see, to hear the sights and sounds that were there made me happy and delighted. I was truly happy and at peace. Everywhere. All the time.

A Man Impossible to Classify by Richard Whittaker, Dec 21, 2007

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