It’s late afternoon, and two young men are sitting in the stream just below the sycamore when I arrive on the bike at the edge of town. It’s windy. Though the sky is cloudless, it’s cool. Aren’t these guys chilly sitting in the cold creek?
The old sycamore is a half-mile from a subdivision to the east, a half-mile from an apartment complex to the west, and 100 meters down a dirt path to the creek from the paved bike path.
The previous week here I felt, and noted in my journal, that darkness has been throwing everything at me but the kitchen sink. Why? Nothing is happening in human consciousness except darkness as far as I can see.
The next time I came to the creek I found, I kid you not, a kitchen sink at the spot. All I could do is laugh, and carry the thing back up to the bike path. The maintenance people must have picked it up.
So, having encountered one thing after another here and elsewhere in recent weeks, I feel peeved at finding two young men sitting on rocks in the stream right below the tree. Rejecting the impulse to leave, I take a seat upstream without a view of the hills.
The missiles fall short of where I sit, so I just remain with what is happening within and without, allowing the senses to open and take in everything in the immediate environment while watching my reactions.
The creek still runs full, but its flow is diminishing. Since the rains came late this year, it may run into August, by which time in past years it’s been a stream of stones baking in the Valley’s heat.
You can’t observe as long as the observer, which is the judger and chooser, is judging and choosing. The observer is the ‘me.’ Try experimenting with asking, as you sit outdoors and become present: Is the observer operating?
There is no answer to that question except to observe one’s inner reactions along with one’s sensations. Thought splits itself off from itself so automatically that awareness must grow very quick to catch it in the act of doing so. Perception and insight ends the ancient habit, at least temporarily. Negation is the essence of meditation.
With passive but intense watchfulness, the divisive entity of the ‘I’ yields to the brain simply observing and listening. Don’t make a goal of it, but give 20 minutes a day to passive watchfulness outdoors, even in just your backyard or patio, allowing the senses to attune to the sounds, sights and smells around you, while watching thoughts and emotions flow by like detritus on a stream.
Despite the stone throwing, the irritation at the young men falls away. I feel a frustration that’s been lying just below the surface, and become aware of an underlying fear. Remaining with the fear without judgment or analysis, it dissipates, and an inner weight suddenly lifts.
Just then a kite, one of the members of the falcon family, appears. Its species has a distinctive flight pattern, characterized by fluttering in place as it scans the ground. Their habitat is quickly being destroyed in the vicinity, and I haven’t seen one in months.
Kites are among the most slender and graceful of falcons, and they seem to always appear at significant moments. Though I don’t believe in signs, they always seem to signify a shift in consciousness. I would have missed the blessing if I had left, or perhaps even if I’d been sitting under the sycamore.
Though the guys are still intermittently throwing stones, it becomes part of the whole scene. About a half hour into the sitting they walk by behind me, still talking volubly, their torsos badly sunburned.
They are in their 20’s, and one carries a skateboard. We exchange greetings. I feel a pang of pity, and a little ashamed at being angry at them for being at ‘my spot.’
I move under the sycamore, and all feeling of me and mine dissolves with the setting sun.