A few months ago, I started a more concerted effort to study the Tao. Some days I am better at spending some studying than others. The more time I spend immersing myself in the wisdom of the Tao, whether communicated through books (Deng Ming Dao’s works are the ones to which I go most frequently), or through just paying attention to the world around me, the more aware I become.
I follow a few organizations and people on Facebook who post pictures of animals. I have a habit of saying hello to the pictures, and I am not ashamed of this. I also greet the beings, human and others, whom I meet out in the world. There is a family of some kind of water birds (small and black, with red beaks) in the pond where I get off the bus, and I make a habit of looking for them every morning, and greet them if I see them. Weird, maybe, but possibly the world needs more weirdness like that.
Yesterday, I was outside for a smoke break and noticed something crashing through the branches of the palm off to my right. It wasn’t a graceful descent, like that of a bird or a squirrel, so I went over to investigate. In the grass, looking scared, was a fledgling mockingbird. AL MOST big enough to fly, and after a few moments recovering its wits, that is what it tried to do. Wings weren’t quite working yet, though, so it hopped off to a safer place, away from the big scary human. I have no idea whether the consoling words I offered to the little one had any effect, but I like to think they did. Maybe it was only in my mind – I tend to think it was something more – but there was a connection there, and it only took the small act of caring a little bit for the welfare of another being for that connection to occur.
Our lives get so busy sometimes, and we get so distracted, that we fail to make these connections, whether with humans or with other beings, whether they are animal or plants, in our surroundings. I guess I have come to discover, and value, that it is these connections which sustain me, teach me, and help me to become a more responsible, respectful resident of this beautiful universe in which we live.