A friend long ago taught me how to sit in the early morning light with a cup of coffee and watch nature awaken to a new day as means to relax, relieve stress and connect with humility. I have recently revived this practice and have been moved to tap out this piece on this keyboard. I do so to honor my friend who passed many years hence and hereby dedicate this piece to his memory.
This morning I sat with my coffee on my deck to listen and watch. A light fog embraced the forest the remnant of an overnight rain. The stream below gurgled mirthfully with its fresh infusion of runoff. I could hear the myriad voices of birds engaged in their morning chatter both near and far. I closed my eyes to concentrate on those further away. I became aware that I had not significantly diminished my sensory experience by closing off the visual input but had instead enhanced my appreciation of those senses that I use less frequently. Yes, the voices of the birds were still there defending their nests or calling out to the others as if to check on them that they made it through the night but to my surprise I also noticed the mist as a palpable moist sensation on my skin and immediately felt connected intimately with the entire wealth of nature surrounding me. I became a part of the morning not as an observer but as an actual participant. As if summoned, a light breeze began first noticed as a cooling sensation on one side of my face. I opened my eyes again and was delighted to see the entire wisp of fog now moving through the woods effortlessly swirling around trunks and leaf alike. I knew the trees could sense this movement in the same way that I had and I felt ever more intimately connected. My scientifically trained mind distracted my attention to contemplate the xylem and phloem of the trunks and the mycorrhizal connectedness of the roots to the soil and the newly abundant moisture that caressed them.
I reconnected with the water and felt heard and watched it make its way to the stream as gravity with its relentless pull guides it gently to the sea. Beams of sunlight now dappled through the mist and began assisting the breeze in dissipating the light fog. My spiritual training in the five elements captured my mind this time melding with my scientific training in marveling at the play of water, air ,fire, earth and suddenly deeply perceived three dimensional space I inhabited. I began to contemplate what kinds of forces drove the various components…of course gravity providing the impetus for the movement of water. but wait the air was also moving the mist allowing it to condense on the surface of the leaves and as the leaves moved with the breeze the droplets fell to the ground to join the movement toward the stream carrying with it minute particles of earth. The fire of the sun helping to dry the leaves to their waxy sun absorbing essence beginning again for the new day creating sugars from the very air…breakfast. But wait the sunlight also heats the earth driving the air upward carrying the heat and humidity upward drawing a cooler breeze through the woods to replace that warmer air rising from the blacktopped and treeless urban valley below cooling it as well in the process. Such majesty. I felt the merciful compassionate nature of the universe nourishing and caring for its inhabitants and wondered how in the space of such intimacy that people could isolate themselves so completely as to feel loneliness and depression. How is it that nature cares for and restores the strength and will to engage life for these inhabitants.
I then recalled hearing somewhere that we humans only use a small fraction of their neural potential on a daily basis to go about our activities. I presume that this means trying to interpret the words spoken or written by others and correlate them with our self-perpetuated reality and ‘understandings’. But what if…what if that unused portion of our neural network is used in continual connection with all other parts of the universe and being universe like is inherently compassionate in nature. Is it our purpose then to sustain those around us without intending to do so ‘consciously’ compassionately. Are we along with all the other animals reflectors of universal compassion. It is said that other species do not have the ability to reflect upon their own existence but this seems excruciatingly anthropomorphic. Do they not also have excess neural capacity? Perhaps they are more focused on connecting with the elements than with isolating themselves. At night, the Moon reflects the light of the sun to illuminate the darkness. Similarly, perhaps it is the human nature and purpose to bring compassion to parts of nature where it is in short supply. I hope so.