Monday, February 5, 2024


When that phone call comes out of the blue, life can change in an instant. The ground shifts between our feet. With our usual landmarks gone, and no direction, there's little we can do.

But there can be a few things:

We can look for something constant. 
  • Like our breath. It's always right here. 
  • Or the temperature of the air. 
  • Or the gentle pressure of gravity. 

We can do something simple to do that's in our control. 
  • Make a cup of tea. 
  • Listen to the birds. 
  • Work with our hands. 

That can give us enough time to catch our breath, to get a sense of our place in the world while things settle down. We may not find our footing right away, but the storm will pass. 

Sunday, February 4, 2024


Judy and I both love music. When we started music class in high school, we needed to choose what instrument to play. Since neither of us knew what to pick, we both tried flute.

Judy was a natural. I was not. She had an edge we both recognized. Her mouth structure was made for flute. Mine, we discovered, was suited to Baritone Horn and Tuba.

But our music teacher, for some reason, pitted us against each other - I guess thinking we'd both respond to the challenge and improve? The more Mr. H. pushed, the more it pissed us off. We both loved a challenge, but this wasn't right. We were there for learning and playing and loving music.

When a competition takes place on a level playing field, it can be glorious. When it's unfair, nobody wins.


I let myself be carried by the service in church. Usually I am attentive and focused; this day I simply relaxed and trusted in the good energy of the place and people. As I sat there enjoying the ambience, insight popped up, unasked for.

That's the way insight comes.

No amount of plotting or planning or analysis or willpower or hard work will bring insight. We can't sit down and say "Okay. Here I am. I'm ready," and expect insight to arrive in due order.

Insight is a gift that can not be captured at will. Nor can anyone can give this to us. It's not a borrowed truth. No matter how wise, no teacher can do this for us. When we experience that moment of illumination, it is ours alone.

We can make room for realization to land, though. Insight finds us when we allow our mind to relax: taking a bath, meditating, walking in the woods, any time we are in our own natural flow. It doesn't require any special tools. We just have to show up and relax.

The experience goes beyond intellectual understanding. Insight is not just another idea or concept, it burrows into our being, shifting and changing our mindscape. Suddenly the world opens up in a new way. We are new. It sticks, too. Its effects linger in our inner being long after the moment has passed.

When I'm easy with myself and with life, insight has room to arrive. It's as though it's been sitting nearby, waiting for me to settle down long enough to notice it.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Drop By Drop

One day, in a very timely manner, the following message came across my desk:

Think not lightly of good, saying, "It will not come to me."
Drop by drop is the water pot filled.
Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little,
fills himself with good.
– Dhammapada 122 –

It's a promise. It's also a message of hope and faith and optimism and patience.

It promises that things can get better even if we don't notice them at the time. And it suggests that we don't have to leap tall buildings to have it happen.

Little things, day after day, add up.

Twenty-five years after planting a sapling, we may look out our window and be surprised to discover the sapling has become a full-grown maple tree. Over the years, little by little, it has taken what it needed to thrive. The changes happened gradually, but that sapling continued to grow steadily. In the same way, we can gather good, "little by little".

Little things done often really add up. For example:
  • Catching a grumpy thought and changing it to a grateful one.
  • Spending a bit more time with people who are kind, and bit less with those who are not.
  • Saying grace at mealtime and really feeling thankful.

  • Listening to the birds.

Each little change brings about its own reward. These little changes are like simple pleasures they can be satisfying in and of themselves. Yet they add up, too. Drop by drop our lives change until one day, we look up and see that life is good.