Eyes to see

I almost missed it. I woke up that morning in a dense fog - both outside my window and in my head. I hadn't slept well, and I had an early start to my day. Thoughts of appointments and household needs were already racing through my mind, and it was late. I grabbed the coffee my husband had brought me and jumped out of bed. Not meditating today, I thought. I had a little over an hour to walk the dog, shower, dress, and be out the door to my first appointment. Coffee would have to do for breakfast this morning.

The dog was doing his happy dance, ready for his expected walk. I dressed quickly in my sweats and dog walking shoes. Ever since my husband and son had returned to work, the morning dog walk had fallen to me, and they were already going out the door. Most days I enjoyed this walk. Not today. Today, the obligation was making me angry. Why was I the one who was expected to walk the dog every morning? Why had my husband let me sleep so late? Why had I set an early appointment? I glared at the dog and strapped him into his harness and leash, knowing that he preferred my husband to walk him. Too bad. I was now the only choice. I opened the door and the dog hesitated, not so sure he wanted to go with me. I snapped at him to get moving, and he ambled out the door and down the steps. I shivered in the cold, foggy morning. The dog began his incessant sniffing routine, rooting around in the weeds at the side of the road as I urged him none too patiently along. If only I'd had time to meditate, I thought, my cloudy, frustrated brain and the aching tightness in my body wouldn't be there. I wouldn't be feeling angry at pretty much everyone, including myself, and I wouldn't be worried about being late to my appointment. I'd be meeting my day with a much more positive attitude. True, and not true. In this Gatha, or short meditative verse from Thich Nhat Hanh, we are reminded that we wake up each day with a choice. Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with the eyes of compassion. We can choose to listen to the mindless stories going on in our head. Or we can choose to set them aside and focus only on those thoughts that are really the most important to us. Thoughts like love and gratitude for a husband who knows how I like my coffee. Gratitude that my family has good jobs to go to. That our dog is friendly and playful and a good companion. That I have a strong, healthy body able to keep up with him. That I have a client who knows the value of our sessions together and has made time in her day to see me. Sitting on my meditation cushion was important, but useless if I couldn’t take what I learned from my practice out into the world. The sun broke through the clouds, throwing a beam of light at my feet. Suddenly, I saw that It was a beautifully cool and misty morning. As I turned the corner, there in front of me was a glorious vision. The sun glinted through the haze, turning it a glowing gold. The mist softened the trees, giving them a shrouded, ethereal quality. The colorful pots of purple mums and orange pumpkins that decorated the grey stone houses stood out brightly, asking nothing more but for me to have the eyes to see. I’m glad I didn’t miss it.