It's Just This
This morning, I was taking my usual morning walk through a field, beneath a forest canopy. Because it is December, it was still dark outside. I felt something fly into my shoulder, but I couldn’t see what it was.
I felt the impact and imagined it was either a spinning leaf or a large, flying insect.
In that moment, I was acutely aware of my two very different responses to what had happened. Thinking it was an insect, I immediately felt a negative reaction – something resembling fear.
When I considered it might have been a leaf, my reaction was more like meeting an innocent and playful element of nature.
As I continued my walk, I considered these variations of nature, and how similar they are. Both appear to fly from one destination to another. It was my own mind that made the distinction that the insect held some sort of intention that the leaf did not.
I saw the connection between innocence and not having an agenda.
I wondered why I had assumed the leaf was not orchestrated by any sort of intention. Our assumptions about life allow us to draw distinctions that may not be accurate. We may not realize that there is as much intention behind flying tree parts as exists among flying insects.
We imagine some sort of insect intelligence or consciousness that drives the insect to behave as it does. We don’t always recognize the role of interconnectivity insects play in the great web of life, sometimes pollinating, and at other times recycling nutrients or aerating the soil.
We may shift the intention of a flying leaf to the tree. It sheds its leaves so that it can survive during the winter. The tree will bend and expand in a way that will ensure its survival, and yet, we would never say the tree is conscious. Beneath the soil, it is communicating with its offspring and other trees.
If a tree demonstrates survival behavior – why would we say it isn’t conscious?
Nature's interconnectivity may actually be a more accurate version of what life really is. Why is the leaf flying? Because the wind has lifted it in a way that allows it to move away from the tree. Does the wind have the intention of helping the leaf arrive where it needs to be?
The wind is the interaction of warm and cold air masses. These warm and cold air masses are part of a larger atmospheric pattern that is regulating temperatures across the earth. Who’s intention is that? Where does the story begin and where does it end?
Discarded leaves provide nutrients to the soil. But what if it wasn’t a leaf at all? What if it was a large, twirling seedpod? In that case, we might say that nature has designed seed pods with wings as a way of extending a tree's progeny out into a larger environment. The wind and the seedpod are performing something not unlike sexual reproduction.
But if the seedpod will grow into a new tree, who’s intention is that?
The tree, the wind and the seed are all demonstrating a type of intention focused on new growth and expansion. If you were to ask me why – I would say that the ‘just-is-ness’ of life’s expression can only be described as a picture of endless abundance.
I am not sharing all of this to answer any question about why. I am writing this to demonstrate how we tend to search for answers to something that just is. This realization can be a powerful gateway back into the rich innocence of the unfolding moment.
We observe life in its individual parts, and do not appreciate the larger tapestry or flow. Additionally, we weave our own assumptions into what we see.
Intention implies meaning – we can see meaning everywhere when we observe the larger flow. If you were to ask me why you are here – I would tell you that life can’t help but express the best of what it is capable of in any moment.
You are an expression of life’s abundance captured in all that makes you unique.
Like the seedpod, you are a variation of two long lines of genetic expression. You may not think trees sexually reproduce, but male and female varieties are pollinated by birds and insects. The story of the birds and the bees might describe how you arrived here – but the reason why is something deeply personal between you and nature. After all, it designed you.
You will be unique, even among your siblings. Like the wind, life will carry you far from home. This will ensure competition for short supply is minimized in close proximity because you and your siblings will have similar needs. But each of you will be a unique variation of your line.
Since nature's interconnectivity seems to reveal a purpose, wrestling with what you cannot change can be an opportunity to see the just-is-ness unfolding. Acceptance can be a catalyst to look deeper at what may be possible. In this way, a lack of an agenda is the innocence that can lead to success.
As you walk the path into 2022, look beyond appearances and observe the larger flow. Learn to see life’s interconnectivity because your path can become more joyous when you realize how life is guiding you.
When life taps you on the shoulder to remind you that you are not alone – don’t ask why. Celebrate the new and unfamiliar perspective it seeks to awaken in you.
Open to life’s abundance – it is all there is, and always there.
It is just this and it is perfect.