“You will never be free until you free yourself from the prison of your own false thoughts.” Philip Arnold
“We are never trapped unless we choose to be.” Anaïs Nin
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” William G.T. Shedd
In her book Everyday Zen Charlotte Joko Beck talks about having great expectations and searching for paradise. “It seems to us that paradise is lost,” she says. She goes on to say: “We have, if not great expectations, some hope that sometime paradise is going to appear to us.”
She concludes that “There is no paradise lost, none to be found. You cannot avoid paradise you can only avoid seeing it.” OK great, chop wood, read about enlightenment, and take photos of flowers.
Despite knowing that this baby sunflower is perfect as it is (thank you Miss Beck), I have great expectations for her. I expect her to become trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful…oh wait a minute that’s something else.
To roughly paraphrase Charles Dickens from his book Great Expectations: “I expect her to know the delights of freedom.” I’ll be back to take her photo in about a week, when the wind is as calm as clam shells and the light is as warm and fuzzy as my brain on Valium and Vodka.
Note: those conditions do not happen every morning.
Back in march I wrote a piece called Coming Home, about how cows never come home because they never leave, and I talked about the brave ones that occasionally make a break for it just to see what’s out there.
This morning I saw one make the escape, only the second cow escape I’ve witnessed in the eleven years I’ve lived in Lancaster County. I watched with an almost clinical interest to see if this was bravery or boredom.
Daisy (she was tagged) crossed the road and instead of tasting her freedom she tasted the grass on the other side. I walked over to take a photo, and chewing on a stem she gave me her best tough girl look. But she was scared; I could see it in her eyes.
Soon a very large Amish woman came out and shooed Daisy down the road to her own farm while the other cows cheered. I’m not sure if they were cheering for Daisy to come home or to make a break for it, but it started to rain and I lost interest.
T.S. Eliot once wrote: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” In this case it was about a quarter mile until she was reunited with her friends. I can only wonder if they thought Daisy was a hero, a coward, or just another pretty face in the crowd.
“I was quite happy in my new place, and if there was one thing that I missed, it must not be thought I was discontented; all who had to do with me were good, and I had a light airy stable and the best of food.
What more could I want? Why, liberty!” Black Beauty
Shunryu Suzuki, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind said: “Life is like stepping onto a boat that is about to sail out to sea and sink.”
He also said: “The person who can freely acknowledge that life is full of difficulties can be free, because they are acknowledging the nature of life – that it can’t be much else.”
Note to self: get a new life preserver.
“When you practice looking deeply, you see your true nature of no birth, no death; no being, no non-being; no coming, no going; no same, no different.
When you see this, you are free from fear. You are free from craving and free from jealousy. No fear is the ultimate joy.
When you have the insight of no fear, you are free. And like the great beings, you ride serenely on the waves of birth and death.” Thich Nhat Hanh