“A Sioux Indian story… My grandfather took me to the fishing pond when I was about seven, and he told me to throw a stone into the water. He told me to watch the circles created by the stone. Then he asked me to think of myself as that stone person. “You may create lots of splashes in your life, but the waves that come from those splashes will disturb the peace of all your fellow creatures,” he said. “Remember that you are responsible for what you put in your circle and that circle will also touch many other circles.” “You will need to live in a way that allows the good that comes from your circle to send the peace of that goodness to others.” “The splash that comes from anger or jealousy will send those feelings to other circles. You are responsible for both.” That was the first time I realized each person creates the inner peace or discord that flows out into the world. We cannot create world peace if we are riddled with inner conflict, hatred, doubt, or anger. We radiate the feelings and thoughts that we hold inside, whether we speak them or not. Whatever is splashing around inside of us is spilling out into the world, creating beauty or discord with all other circles of life. Remember the eternal wisdom: WHATEVER YOU FOCUS ON EXPANDS…”
I start with this story as I was inspired by your last post on the man in the park Richard. My version of your experience occurred last Sunday when I took an afternoon break to stroll on the path around our local lake here in Austin.
Whenever I feel isolated or alone the practice of a walk around Lake Austin on Sunday is the elixir that will always shift my inner territory very quickly. Like the man in the park this lake trail is right smack next to downtown Austin. Now mind you it is nothing like Hong Kong in size, but it is a busy city.
On this path you will see all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors of people and dogs. There is room for engagement with others, focusing on a run or workout, or simply just being quiet to take in the natural surroundings and the presence of others enjoying their day.
It was in the midst of this that I had a decision to make. Would I hunker down inside of myself nestled into separation and barricade away from the activity going on all around me, or would I engage with my world in a loving and curious way as the old man in the park engaged with his practice – fully and completely while being in the moment?
You might guess that I chose the latter and here is what happened. Just “simply being” for the first part of my walk my clinging to inner thoughts opened into a moment to moment delight in taking in all of the sights, sounds, smells and activity. As I felt more of the ground beneath my feet my attention was increasingly drawn outward as that pebble dropped into the water.
The ripple effect from within me then drew in experiences that reflected my openness and willingness to engage. Seated on my favorite bench high above the water I was awaiting an entire flotilla of stand up paddle board people that I had seen in the distance, before I sat down, to emerge from beneath the bridge that I was on. Standing up I gazed down at the water beneath me to see where they might be as it was taking an awfully long time for them to come out the other side!
Meanwhile, behind me people were lined up looking down at the water on the other side of the bridge. Curiosity got the best of me and I strolled over to see what they were looking at. There were the paddle boarders – all women and all dressed in Halloween costumes from mermaids to harem dancers to pirates. They were talking with all of us standing above and enjoying every minute of having their picture taken. The bystanders, of which I was one of, were all smiling and laughing, and small children were being taken up in arms to gaze down at this playful display.
An older man came up right beside me after they were back on their way towards where they had come from (they never did come through the other side of the bridge!) and we engaged in conversation around the women in costume, life in Austin (he is a native), and music.
Smiling we both walked our separate ways and my walk back reflected the splash of feelings I radiated out from inside. A flash of knowing hit me that I would see “Bob” the dog and his owner Nancy on my way back. Sure enough about 10 minutes down the path there they were .
Now Nancy and Bob are regulars on this path as like me they live alone and love getting out into the company of others tucked into nature. Bob is a very large Bassett hound with long floppy ears and he is often seen dragging his lease behind him with the perpetual plastic bag tied around it in case he needs to relieve himself so to speak. Upon seeing me he immediately laid down right at my feet (well actually on my feet to energetically bond) and proceeded to show me his belly to rub. Now, mind you this is only the 3rd time that I have seen Bob and Nancy on the path!
Nancy and I agree that Bob, who is getting on in his life at age 12, must really enjoy being a dog as he brings so much delight to everyone that comes across his path. This day he was to delight a 1 1/2 year old little girl who was ringed in smiles as she realized that this doggie was shorter than her and she could pet him. The absolute delight in this little girls face upon that first touch of Bob’s fur was priceless and radiated right smack into my heart. How simple happiness can be!
And expand that happiness did! To Nancy and I, to the mother of the little girl, to the many others that walked past during this exchange, and certainly to Bob! My return to openness, curiosity and love of being in the moment to moment experience of life collaborated with all that was around me and made a regular walk extraordinary.
How many times in a day do we have the power to shift what is happening not only in our life experience, but in that of everything and everyone around us? I would say with each inhale and exhale….
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