It’s that time of year. The heat is on, the rain seems to be slowing in pace and intensity. We may soon be able to churn up those great thick cover crop roots, and if the soil won’t dry enough in time, we’ll just plant right into them. It’s time to mow, and turn ground, plant, weed, wash, hoe, mow again, feed chicks, feed people, wash dishes, pull more weeds, plant more seeds, and mow some more. It’s the rush. There’s so much to do and think.
If we thought we were busy before, we were wrong. We’re really busy now, and humbled to know that we could be busier still. We could be hotter, colder, richer, poorer, healthier, or punier than we are. We are humbled, grateful, and busy.
Nevertheless, this weekend, we’re taking a day away. We bought the tickets back in January, feeling relaxed with the winter schedule. We thought, “yes, of course we can do that – we’re reasonable people who can take time for ourselves to have a family outing and do things that are important to us AWAY from the garden, even in MAY.” We’ll stand by those words now, but it’s a good thing we got the tickets early. If we had choose to buy tickets this week, we probably wouldn’t. All four of us have seats at the Dalai Lama’s public address in Louisville.
We have two baby turkeys and another broody turkey hen who need daily tending. There are still seedlings kicking around in the too hot greenhouse. There are weeds taking up too much space in the onion bed, more weeds that we can’t see sprouting underground, and the corn hasn’t been planted yet. I need to drum up business for my yoga classes, make an outline for a talk I’m giving soon, and round up a couple more veggie shares.
How on earth can I think about the Dalai Lama right now?
As soon I the thought enters my mind I know that right now is exactly the right time to think about the Dalai Lama, and spend the day traveling to hear him speak.
If you don’t know much about the Dalai Lama, I recommend you learn more. No matter what religious or non-religious affiliation you claim, he has something for you. He’s a person with a special message for humanity, at large – all of us.
I had the opportunity to hear him speak three years ago. It was crazy busy here but the ticket was available and Paul knew it was a great Mother’s Day gift ever. I was pregnant with Levon, and Lulah was big enough to stay home and hold down the fort with Paul. I loved every minute of it and took notes.
Since Levon will be in my lap, I doubt I’ll do so good with note taking this time.
There are millions of Tibetan people still residing in Tibet who still regard His Holiness the Dalai Lama (HHDL) as their temporal and spiritual leader. Even though it is a criminal offense, many continue to carry his photo. Their dedication is heartfelt and unflagging. I met many such people in my travels, and was moved by their faith and basic goodness in the face of adversity (the beautiful Roof of the World is in pretty rough shape). It was a wonder to me, as I sat in the auditorium at Bloomington three years ago, that I would have the opportunity to hear their leader in person, and they probably wouldn’t. I quietly dedicated that time to them.
It’s a conundrum of sorts. Had there been no Cultural Revolution in China, resulting in the absorption of Tibet (now the Tibetan Autonomous Region) in to the People’s Republic of China, HHDL would most likely still be holding court in Lhasa, the old capital of Tibet. However, due to the Chinese takeover, this amazing leader and a flood of his people, have come out into the world, into exile, and into public consciousness. The message they carry is powerful.
Here’s the gist: Attention. Love and Compassion. Really. That’s it. It’s as simple as a baby’s smile, and more powerful than money and firearms.
I need every reminder I can get.
From my notes three years ago:
“All of us humans are basically the same. We have the same potential for good-ness and bad-ness. We all have special capacities for intelligence, vision, and memory, and what we all want is to have a happy life. ”
” All human activities of science, technology, government, money, etc. can be used for the benefit of all beings IF a strong moral ethic is first in place and strongly upheld.”
“To gain full knowledge of reality our mind must be calm. Then, we can make a realistic approach to our goals.”
What does this have to do with transplanting lettuce, turkey chicks, or corn?
So much. If my attention is whiz banging around, and I am jumping from one chore to the next with frenzied, harried intensity and exhaustion (it’s not hard to do things this way), then ultimately, what am I accomplishing? Focusing my attention with care, doing each task effectively, will create a much healthier and more satisfying effect, in the garden, in my family, in business and life in general. Focusing that way is a challenge in and of itself, AND focused attention by itself is no great boon. Without love and compassion, a life of great focused attention can still be pretty unhappy.
“For there are these three things that endure: Faith, Hope, and Love, but the Greatest of these is Love.”
So, with Love and Compassion, to ourselves and emanating out from us, our works (there will always be work) bear greater fruit than just heads of lettuce, eggs, or great watermelons. With love, compassion, and focused attention, our children do more than make good grades and behave well. They thrive and grow into people who improve the world around them with their presence. Our neighborhoods become communities where people trust and respect one another. Our faiths and philosophies become intelligent, real, working aspects of our lives.
When we have so much to do, we can do our work with so much loving attention.
So much the better.