Welcome to this week’s Inner-Outer You wisdom
By Terry Hodgkinson A.k.a. Wandering Ninja
I just love this picture of the fox taking a moment out of his/her busy schedule to smell the flowers. Being spring I was reminiscing and remembered a student I taught private martial arts lessons to for quite some time, two times a week. He couldn’t make the regular class schedule in the evenings as he ran his own construction contracting company and his work ran all day long and all too often into the evenings. He also had family life with three small kids to balance out. He was on the road a lot driving from one location to another and always seemed short on time and long on stress. One day, around the same time of the year as now, I noticed Brain’s stress was peaking, so I said, “Brian, have you noticed the buds coming out on the trees?” he replied simply with a “No”. The next week I said, “Brian, have you noticed the birds returning from down south?” He replied once again with “ No”. The week after I said, “Brian, have you noticed the spring flowers starting to bloom?” It was his response this time that concerned me. “No I don’t have time to notice these things, I mean how do you do that anyways? All I can think about is my schedule and what I have to do next and the problems that need solving. I don’t see anything else because my mind is totally wrapped up into my work”. I gave him a little reminder that it’s a good thing to slow down, even if only once in a while and take some time out to smell the spring flowers. Or in other words to notice what else is happening in his life other than only work related issues. After all, his responsibilities will still be there and all that he has to attend to, but those spring flowers…well they will only there for a short time. He told me he would try, in a very unconvincing tone of voice.
As I talked to him in regards to his mindset, a passage from my training in philosophy came to mind. This passage is from the book The I Ching A.k.a The Book of Change, a book that was introduced with my Kung Fu training from when I was in my early teens . Here’s what it says: “To know the seeds, that is divine indeed… The seeds are the first imperceptible beginning of movement, the first trace of good fortune (or misfortune) that shows itself. The superior man perceives the seeds and immediately takes action. He does not wait even a whole day.”
A few months after that talk with Brian I sold that martial arts school and traveled to Asia a number of times, where I stay there for long sabbaticals and training. When I came back, I opened another school teaching martial arts and meditation. A few years later I bumped into Brain at a local shopping mall. Unfortunately it looked like he had suffered a nervous breakdown and sadly seemed only a shadow of his former driven self. He looked withdrawn, distant and uninterested in talking to anyone.
So I ask you the reader… have you seen any buds on the trees yet? How about birds returning from down south? What about spring flowers? If you haven’t it might be because we are just coming through a long, harsh winter and spring is later this year. Or could it also be something more serious: you simply have been too busy or caught up in your life to even notice them?
Take some time to notice and appreciate what’s around you, rather than taking it for granted. It could mean the difference between good fortune and misfortune. Or another way of saying it, it could mean the difference between being of sound health or having ill health.
Even a fox knows that.
“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times