I’ve spent much of my life regretting actions and wishing I hadn’t done or said many of the things I’ve done. Or said.
Enter motherhood. Naturally, there are things I regret, but mostly I spend a lot of my time trying to make sure that nothing happens in Annika’s life that I regret, or will traumatize her.
Then earlier this week, I was sitting outside of the Austin Zen Center with a friend. We had just meditated, and we both have a penchant for the outlandish: fantasy, sci fi, metaphysics. Our conversation typically goes there pretty quickly.
We began discussing the possibilities of other dimensions, past lives, the potential for the future, and how our current states affect all of that.
Being one who enjoys the Buddhist mindset, I find this next bit ironic, but I had to share it with you all because it was so perfect. The scene was pure serenity.
We were both relaxed and staring directly at the lawn of the center. Dirt covered ground. A bird bath, with birds coming and going. And a tree. A magnificently large tree that was bent and gnarled in many places, making it all the more beautiful.
As we spoke, he noted that the only reason that we acknowledge birds with the name — birds — is because we are all in agreement that those are birds. Initially, when he pointed them out, I thought he was talking about the waves of water in the bird bath. “Yes,” he said. “That’s a good example of something that isn’t real, yet we all agree that it is.”
Then we, finally, noticed the tree. This tree, right in front of us, and yet, we had been totally ignoring it throughout our conversation.
Trees bend. They twist. They turn. They are pushed down by the world, by weather, by man, and yet, they continue to reach for the sunlight. The more bent and weathered they are, the more beautiful they become. The older they are, the more times they have weathered storms, they become magnificent, with each bend, and each time they climb back up toward the sun, their beauty multiplies.
Why can’t people do that with their lives? My friend wondered. Why don’t we look at life in the same way we see trees, with the weathering and the beating of the storm of life. We look back and regret fills us, making the bend so much less significant than if we looked at it as part of the beauty of our lives.