Thursday, October 7, 2010


I've lived most of my life in a curious dilemma. On one hand, I believe in taking life as it comes, accepting people and things at face value, avoiding assumptions and judgment, sparing my experiences the burden of expectation. This has never been easy for me, but, like any valuable lesson, I figure it's worth the effort. In fact, I'm convinced it's one of the prerequisites of happiness.

On the other hand, I am, if nothing else, a curious, analytical person. I notice the subtlest of details—things I pick up on with my conventional senses as well as some I intuit. And when I notice, I automatically want to know more. What's making that sound? Where's this creature going? Why did she say it that way? Even though such delving questions might seem at odds with face-value acceptance, I've learned to give them a nurturing place in my soul, because my quest to answer them nearly always leads to fascination and wonder. These, too, are essential to my happiness.

     It is not by my request, but by her invitation
     that I enter and explore her mystery and miracle.

So how does one reconcile these apparently disparate urges? Can one really appreciate first impressions, yet still crave deeper knowledge? I guess I've always felt the two lived in tandem, merely tolerating each other in a sort of separate-but-equal co-existence. In the past eight or nine years, though, as I've written more and more about such things, I've begun to see them as not so separate after all, but more like two sides of the same coin.

Serenity is the climate it takes for curiosity to flourish. I've gotten really good at turning off the dissonance of a busy day, dismissing others' demands and my own, and opening my heart, my spirit, to the gift of wonder. It's then that an incredible transaction occurs. True to the first of my urges, I invest my attention, surrendering myself to simply what is. Then the curiosity part comes in: What more might there be? That part I see not originating in me, but driven by Nature. It is not by my request, but by her invitation that I enter and explore her mystery and miracle.

So there's no dilemma after all. After decades of self-questioning (and a few counseling sessions here and there), the contentious marriage of a serene soul with an intensely curious spirit seems, at last, to have reconciled. The serenity is my contribution; the curiosity and wonder are Nature's. Nowadays, when I put myself in the right place—both in physical location and in my mind—Nature invariably shows me the way to the right place in my (and her) spirit.


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