I like what Tibetan Buddhist author Pema Chodron has to say. I have read her biography and I can relate to her life story. She seems like one cool lady.
In her book, Start Where You Are: A Guide To Compassionate Living, she writes about how each and every circumstance of one’s life is an opportunity to practice living with an open, loving and compassionate heart.
I view my contemplative nature as the very best part of me. I enjoy thinking about a thought, an idea . . . a concept. I “chew on it,” as I say, and then, once I have tasted its flavour I either spit it out or swallow it and make it part of my daily life.
While reading this morning one particular passage caught my attention:
“There’s nothing that you can think or feel that gets put in the category of “bad.” There’s nothing that you can think or feel that gets put in the category of “wrong.” It’s all good juicy stuff—the manure of waking up, the manure of achieving enlightenment, the art of living in the present moment.”
The juicy manure of waking up . . . that summoned a particularly vivid vision to my mind!
I have always loved horses and as a young woman I had five Quarter horses. Needless to say, there was a lot of manure to shovel.
One time I had been sick with the flu and, consequently, the manure had built up a bit. I found myself overwhelmed with a lot of shovelling. I had barely recovered but the horses needed to be cleaned out. I guess I went at it with too much vigour because right in the middle of one stall I almost passed out. I would have pitched headlong into the manure if I had not caught myself in time. That was a close call and one I will remember for many reasons.
I smile wryly as I relate this story now but it would not have been very amusing at the time. It serves to illustrate my contemplation for the day . . . Crap happens and only I can shovel it.
I think of a barn filled with my own pains and hurts and terrors and anxieties – all the crap with which I torture myself.
You know what I mean – we all have our own special version. It holds a particular consistency and aroma that is personal and unique. We joke and say it is our “own brand.”
We get used to our own brand and, curiously enough, we don’t find it anywhere near as distasteful as we do someone else’s brand of crap. Walk into a “hot zone” immediately after someone else has heated it up . . . yeah, you know what I mean.
Perhaps you are grimacing right now, thinking about crap. Honestly, when we think about our personal mental crap as really juicy excrement it is not very appealing.
In this barn I have a shovel. You see, this is my vision of my barn full of crap, and so I have also devised a shovel. And a pair of brand new rubber boots. Knee high. With high heels . . . why not look snazzy while shovelling?
Pema Chodron writes about making friends with the present, with who I am right now. I hear her say that it is important to snuggle up to all of my silliness and ego-meanderings and indignation and desires – to hang out with my fear of pain and vulnerability . . . of bereavement and ageing and loss.
Each piece of crap is my gift . . . my “present.” In the present moment is exactly where I have the power to shovel.
I enjoy watching renovation shows where they turn old barns into beautiful homes. The images you see here serve to beautifully illustrate my point – they are of an old converted barn located in Golčův Jeníkov, Czech Republic.
It is called the BOOOOX Barn, created by the architects of Czech Studio OOOOX. Here is one image of the interior:
Cool, eh? It just goes to show you that even an old barn that was once full of crap can become something truly beautiful. Inside and out.
In order to clean out a barn sometimes you have to wade in. If you close the barn door and walk away, sure the crap will rot but the interior will never be habitable. You have to do the work – that is what I get from Pema Chodron’s interesting passage.
Now, that will take a little chewing . . .