By: R. Richards
I’ve often been thinking how having a child is like teaching an 18-yr Outward Bound course, for the parents. The bus arrives when the baby is born and it may leave when the teen turns 18, but maybe not. Of course, no one wants to hear the worn our phrase, “you learn through your children” but I’m reminded of the Kogi tribe (see the BBC film Elder Brother’s Warning) in the Colombian Sierra Nevada mountains who hide their shamans-in-training in a darkened hut, never seeing the light of day until their 18th birthday. Then, after years of preparation, after telling them what the world looks like, they see their world for themselves, for the first time with their own eyes. As the wonder of a baby, with new eyes, but with training, so they can see their world more clearly to do their shamanic work.
Seeing our baby boy look with glee at the morning sunrise, and the light shining through some palm leaves this morning is an eye opener. I felt “more aware” after I survived being tossed around in a van roll-over in 1988. “Everything looked new and pristine”, as Eckhart Tolle put it after his awakening experience. I felt like lucky to still be on the planet. That default feeling subsided after a few weeks, and now I have to work at being present by doing what I call “remembering my spiritual practice”. For me it’s meditating and listening to Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now. Reminders can take almost any form as long as it helps
bring one back to their center. In recent talks with newly elected Mountain Spirit Institute board member and mountain guide/instructor Ken Wyle, he’s been relating how writing his book on being buried in an avalanche which killed seven people, is a catharsis. Tolle says that people who are more conscious in their lives have usually had some tragic loss in their life that shook them out of the dream state we call normal life.
Our baby boy, laughing as he looks out the window of our van whizzing down main street in Kingston New Zealand, is a reminder to me – “What am I missing? I want to see like he sees!” The good news, it’s wholly possible. I’ve been seeing, more than dreaming during the last ten years. And it’s obivous when I’m not present. I might go a whole morning or day and realize I’ve not been present until something catches my eye, like a detail of a stem in a vase, or the bustle in supermarket, or of course, a sunset.
Learning to see and live in the moment sure beats the alternative, and I’m not going back. When you beat your head against a wall long enough, you finally decide you’ve had enough of that, and make the choice to stay in peace, no matter what happens. A side benefit of being at peace is your mind isn’t filled with crap, so you are free to see such things as the morning light shining through some palm fronds.
Images: R. Richards, taken this morning