February 9, 2010 by gregwebb
I served as ‘duty parent’ this past Wednesday for the boys’ afternoon preschool class. Valentine’s-themed crafts were in full force. Evidently, so were germs, because after all the tower-building and mailbox-making and ball-bouncing and comfort-giving (that cartoon about going to the dentist in order to avoid the cavity monster WAS scary), I developed a cold that carried through the weekend…This didn’t stop our family from hosting a dear friend up from L.A. to screen his movie at the Victoria International Film Festival. I made it off the couch to see his delightful romantic comedy (which, in the logic of film festivals, was paired with a German documentary about food design simply because Tim’s movie title has the word ‘pie’ in it), then shuffled back home for a dose of spectacle and sport compliments of this year’s Super Bowl. Only after completing a seventy-two hour regimen of sleep and Nasonex and Afrin and Allegra-D do I now feel like attempting the trail…Conditions remain the same as they’ve been since last fall – I’ve got sunshine but the path has seen rain. My body feels completely relaxed though, and I quickly find a pace and a spiritual space to allow a great run to come forward. – And it does…I find myself meditating on the differences between a life of participation and a life of being a spectator to others’ adventures and accomplishments. Certainly, in the snapshots mentioned above, world-class movie screenings and athletic achievements are worthy of watching, and celebrating. What they are not worthy of is identification-with and attachment-to via the sole role of ‘spectator’. When I forfeit my own simple, everyday life in favor of someone else’s supposedly superior existence, I lose my connection to the Tao and the present moment – no matter how much more thrilling somebody else’s moment may seem, at the moment, to be…Just past the halfway mark, I veer off the trail to avoid the standing water and mud I see – only to splash ankle-deep into the grass-covered muck I don’t see! Now covered in goo from the knee down, I cease worrying about avoiding goo and start running faster than I have in many muddy months. - Not one of the world’s sacred texts, in whatever form they’ve been preserved for us from ancient times, sufficiently anticipates the obstacles to contentment that our modern world places in front of us. The scientific discoveries that expand our knowledge of universe(s) far beyond Old Testament-era explanations, consumption-driven capitalism that demands perpetual discontent to fuel perpetual ‘growth’, global communication technology that brings every disaster occurring on Spaceship Earth to our personal television-portal twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week, a ‘winner take all’ philosophy and the accompanying ‘celebrity worship’ which exalts the ‘stars’ while leaving the rest of us on this blue planet green with envy – no wonder so many of us react by either withdrawing into fundamentalism’s denial of Reality or by elevating to god-like status those who’ve supposedly successfully navigated such treacherous terrain (only to wail or secretly gloat when such super-heroes are revealed – as they always are – to have feet of clay)…My own clay-covered feet now sense the steps of someone ‘gaining on me’. With no further communication needed, I dig down and find my fastest final kilometer ever. When I finish and turn to acknowledge my invisible friend’s assistance, he beats me to it with a “thanks for the great run!”…As I head home pondering the events of the past week from the Tao’s perspective, I feel my greatest contentment arising not from what I saw but from what I participated in – my wonderful, simple, everyday life.