I went for a very enjoyable walk through the woods today. The sun was shining and the birds were singing. Germany is about a month ahead of Canada in terms of the seasons, so spring is approaching here. There has been no snow this winter outside of minor flurries. I have walked almost every day through these woods this fall and winter. It is my place of refuge here in Germany. The trees are my sangha here. But still as I encounter people and rural villages in the area that I walk through, I am left with the image of how firmly set every thing here in Germany is. Life has been carved out and established and any effort to take it in a different direction is resisted. People are set in their way of being in the world and seeing life and I am not part of the permanence, nor do I desire to be. I am a visitor here largely because I feel that I am learning to embrace change: more than they are prepared to deal with it here. German life has great respect for privacy so I am able to find my own way in peace but at the cost here of being alone.
I write and meditate and I read and I paint. Others would surely be happy to have the options that I have. I am coming to know myself and to go with that. It seems to be a more authentic way than I have ever known. Maybe it is that I am getting older and to have to shift and shape myself to the needs and norms of others is not so attractive to me, although it seems that I am partly here because I have been able to be open, adaptive and flexible in my needs at times.
I have been wondering why it is that I write and paint? It doesn’t seem to be out of a need for affirmation or attention. I can relate to what Thomas Moore writes: ” I’m not interested in achieving happiness. I think of happiness as an important but fleeting sensation. I want the calm of not having to get anywhere or know anything. I enjoy the end of a certain kind of craving, not for things but for thoughts.”
As Moore also alludes to, maybe I am fooling myself. If I am writing maybe the need is deeper than I am able to yet see. I am sure that I don’t want others to follow my way. I’m not so convinced that it has been the right way so I do not write or paint for these reasons. It has been a life of searching although even that has fallen away and as Moore adds questions seem to be more important these days than the answers.
There is something creative in this place of contentment. It seems to be something that is not so concerned about the self or the needs that arise from it. There is a craving for expression that emanates from it and possibly it is what is at the source of what I am and why I paint, write and what I do .
I identify very strongly with what Thomas Moore has written in this article that I have included. Maybe it is age but I have a sense that these days it is as necessary as ever, maybe more so, that we should find a way to allow ourselves to experience life, aging and death in an authentic way. In my contemplation I am aware that a long-term commitment to awareness has been required to have avoided being swept away in a confusing tide of conventional wisdom. Societal and cultural norms, common sense, science, knowledge, religion and tradition are some of the resources that are a part of an external milieu that has offered expertise and assistance to me in finding my way. Gratefully through a shift in awareness I have been enabled to include something more of my original face that has come to be an essential source of a more valued guidance for me.
The Care of the Soul: The Place Beyond Seeking by Thomas Moore