Recently I met a beautiful Gypsy man, from Hungary, and a beautiful woman from Puerto Rico, at a cultural festival in Oregon. We spent from sundown to well into the night together, sharing food, drinks, cacao and kinikinnick; each thing savored with a story, an invitation and the time to enjoy each other, for several hours in a parking lot. It was such a delight. A hawk came to visit. The moon came out. We laughed, sang, made music, shared gifts, and tales of ancestries, of roads, of loves, of mountains, and songs.
We then parted ways. My heart was filled with the kindness, the joy, the flavors and the feelings of having been well-met, well-received and filled to the brim.
It was SO good. I felt nourished.
It is so good to take the time truly taste ease, to really connect with someone we just met and allow a moment to unfold.
Few people take time this way. Often, in a conversation, I can feel the other person’s rush; very often. I say goodbye and go back to my own activities; too busy.
Being busy is often a sign of being caught in some automatic, compulsive routine, or so many activities and interests piled one on top of the other that there is no real time to lend a Whole Attention to any particular one.
Many people wear “being busy” like a badge of honor. “How are you?” “Oh! I’m SO busy!”
The alternatives are simpler, RICHER, more rewarding and enjoyable. Relax from the timeline and see if maybe there are possibilities, delights and joys which are right at hand, unnoticed while we are so busy chasing after “possibilities, pleasures and joys” that we never quite catch up to.
Constant busyness impoverishes relationships, the ease with which we could be living our lives, and our world. Busy people don’t have time to notice. Too busy to notice anything except the next thing which, when it comes along, is never noticed.
This reveals a neurological and physiological condition that is deeply programmed in us, since childhood; “homework,” sports programs, after-school programs, television programs with abrupt changes of visual context every 4 seconds, and an accelerated mind that is never invited to STOP and unchain itself from programmed activity, to begin to take in greater contexts, relationships, movements and dynamics. It is the mind shaped by mediated experience in a world touched only by way of re-presentation, rather than connection.
Discovering how much simpler and richer life can be than “busy” has been a lifelong apprenticeship for me. I discover people, around the world, who still raise their families SLOWLY, taking time, doing things with thorough enjoyment and attention, and who have these very simple gestures to rapidly, easily and elegantly achieve what I have always made into a “big production.”
Spending time with my dear friend Dona Maria in her garden in the rain forest of Brazil was a revelation of engaging simply, slowly and resplendently with Nature.
In cultures that have endured, busyness is seen as a spiritual illness, a sign of a sure lack of maturity and wisdom. Disease is precisely that: dis-ease, “that which goes away from ease” and is even “opposed to ease.” When we suffer from a dis-ease we are suffering from “the opposite of ease” and “an opposition to ease.”
Diseases don’t start when we get diagnosed with a “disease.” Disease starts by living in opposition to our ease. The diagnoses only come fifteen or twenty years later, as our entire being is exhausted from having to sustain a way of life where ease is absent.
When we allow ourselves to be deeply at ease and present, we discover that Life offers us room, time, spaciousness and wealth – we only need to get off our “train,” sit down comfortably and curiously and take in a little bit of the horizon.
To really enter into conversation and connection with another person is to enter Spaciousness. Only in that Spaciousness does true conversation unfold. Otherwise we only hear words we’ve already heard, jump to the conclusions already formed, or implanted in us, long ago and never capture the message and the sense of what another has to tell us.
A true conversation doesn’t just last a few minutes or hours. Sometimes it lasts for days, or years. One has to walk it for a few months in silence and then come to the next part of it. Without this spaciousness, human encounters get reduced to “data exchanges.”
There are conversations I had with people decades ago that only lasted a few minutes, yet continue to learn from, discovering nuances, details and larger contexts of what they called my attention to. Those conversations unfold in my attention like some magical treasure chest which, when opened, reveals more treasure chests within.There are lifelong friends and teachers I only spent a few moments with, but they welcomed me into a Spaciousness that has nourished me for a lifetime.
This takes receiving another person in their context, their offering, and their expression, and not reducing everybody else to our own frame as soon as we have heard the first five words of a sentence, concluding that we have already heard what they haven’t even finished saying, and already being eager to “get on with it.”
What if we HAVE already heard it a hundred times? Have we realized it in our lives?
I was very happy to meet some people who know this Way of Offering and Receiving, of allowing a rich conversation to unfold with rich detours, sideshows, little sips of exotic drinks from far-away lands, new words learned in ancient tongues, songs sung, songs played with flutes, laughter, jokes, mutual gift-giving, affection, celebration and noticing the animals coming by to keep us company.
My Hungarian-Gypsy friend works with wood. He showed me pictures of the elaborately-carved doorposts and gateways of his People in Transylvania and said:
“These gateways are carved this way because of the sadness my People feel when they cut down trees to make their homes. So they carve, and they carve, and they carve these doorposts until that sadness for cutting down the trees is gone. Only then can they truly feel at home in the home they have made of the Forest. These gateways face the Dawn, First Light.”
These are the doorways a Capital-P People walk into when they come and go from their True Home, the place which orients them in relationship and response-ability. They are doorways that acknowledge both sides of the necessary deals we make with the Greater Aliveness.
Sadness is not the opposite of Beauty. Beauty is not the opposite of Sadness. They are Related and mutually Nourishing. To Know this Living, to Feed this Living, to Grieve this Living, to Celebrate this Living and to bring this all into the Beauty of a Way of LIVING that’s truly ALIVE takes time, takes dedication, takes patience. It takes the courage to feel the depths and the expanses that our lives are connected to. It takes listening to all of Living.
It takes time for a Great Story to Unfold. It takes time to tell them and even more time to Live them, so that something of the magnificence of our human adventure can be transmitted to the next generations from someone who truly shows the signs of having loved living in this world.
Busyness is not a sign of Intelligence. The quick “get-to-the-point” impatience of the mechanized mind programmed to stimulus-response is the death of Intelligence, the death of Aliveness, and kills the world. Offer yourself some time for tasting ease.
When I started apprenticing in Seeing, Hearing and Moving with Rockman he told me to slow down. A beloved Cheyenne Elder Brother would always say, smiling,
“Go Slow. Get there fast. Go fast and you might never even GET where you ARE, much less where you think you are going.”
Suh-geh-seh, my teacher’s teacher would say, pointing at his eyes with two fingers, then out at the world.
For those who SEE, their EYES speak.
For those who DON’T see, other mouths are talking.
A Klamath elder whom I had the privilege of spending several years getting to know, used to say,
“Keep your eyes and ears open. You might learn something.”
This is a complete teaching. To give fifty or a hundred years to real-eyes-ing such a teaching makes something possible, not only for us, but for those whom we care for, in a New Way, which is the Way of Aliveness, the Real Way, the Way of Renewal, of Nourishing and Being Nourished in Aliveness.
This Way doesn’t come out of someone else’s magical recipe book, but out of our care and attention to the world and to our Aliveness, which is fed by and feeds the entirety of Aliveness. This book is written in YOU and all around you. You have to slow down to read it.
Being busy, always rushing for the next thing rarely helps us discover what we already have, undiscovered, in the palm of our hand, until we STOP. In Busyness we hide our Greatest and Most Necessary Secrets from ourselves.
Busyness is the hallmark of slaves. It is unthinking, unsavored tedium and drudgery, masquerading as sense-less speed and the short-lived enthusiasms of untasted “living.”
When we SLOW DOWN and PAY ATTENTION, then we discover True Speed, True Effectiveness, True Ease. Sit down on the earth for fifteen minutes at night. Notice where the stars line up on the landscape when you start. Notice where they line up after 15 minutes. Consider that you have traveled thousands of miles, without trying. Notice. Bring THAT into your Journey.
This is the Beauty and Power of the Universe we inhabit and which inhabits us. Slow Down. Discover True Effectiveness in Effort-LESS-ness and Care-FULL-ness.
Everything in this world is in Motion; vast, mighty, powerful, immense, precise Motion. You can join your Motion to what is already in Motion – or you can get busy.
Intelligence comes from the Latin inter: “between” and legere: “to read, to select, to choose.” Intelligence requires reading, not words, reality. One of the first thing my teacher Rockman told me is that I had never learned to read, that modern people don’t read.
Great harm is done to our Intelligence by the rote cramming and slamming of words, and pre-determined answers, and definitions of the world in the state-industrial processing plants for innocent neurologies we erroneously call “schools.”
“School” comes from the Greek skholé: “EASE.” Free People, in order to learn, to grow, to enrich themselves and each other, find their EASE, FIRST. This is what entering a True School is all about: discovering EASE.
Slaves spell and remain spellbound, for a lifetime. They read words but not reality. To read is to choose. True choosing is in True Reading. Birds do it. Mountain shepherds do it.
Then the Song of the World comes to us, as we, Resonant Readers of True Aliveness, discover the Song that Sings us into BE-ing.
I have to remind myself: Don’t be so busy you don’t have time to Read and to Choose, patiently, deeply, care-fully, sense-ably and Beauty-Fully. Slow Down. Notice. Then Choose. Life is generous. Be generous with Living: Give it Time. Give it Attention. Give it Care.
As I Make an Offering of Noticing to that which Offers me Everything, then My Heart Overflows with Gratitude: I SEE the BEAUTY Aliveness Invites me to.
Gather Seeds, My Relative,
Learn to Read
Reality is ALIVE.
Notice Reality and Come to Where the Aliveness Lives,
IN You, WITH You, AS You,
Inviting you to the Journey of Your Aliveness in Greater and Greater Aliveness.
If you’d like a Great Journey, SLOW DOWN!