Choosing the Depths

As I was running late to work one day, my mind calculated and recalculated the fastest route, as if I could predict where the slow cars would be or when the traffic lights would turn. Not to mention that the time difference would, in reality, be negligible no matter which way I went.

An interior voice wanted to take a route that I was sure was not the fastest. The voice insisted, though, and off we went. About halfway to the freeway, a blue heron passed overhead. Its majestic, unhurried flight took with it all the melancholy and anxiety that had been gurgling around inside me.

I won’t claim with certainty that I was meant to go that way to meet the heron. Sometimes this is true and sometimes it’s not, and generally speaking, the world is more complex than we can account for. But I will say that the experience made it clear that I so often choose a course of action based on the wrong criteria.

Choosing to go the way in which we will encounter the beauty of our fellow creatures or lessen the suffering in the world is so much more important than making it to work one minute earlier.

I spend a lot of time on the innumerable daily equivalents of that one minute. They come in so many sizes and flavors—which task to do first, which type of olive oil to buy, what the right answer is. Their very quantity makes them seem important when actually they’re distracting.

To make choices that are worthy of us, we need questions that will take us to the depths of our lives where we long to be—is it loving? Is it kind? Does it bring joy to me and others?

We need to remember that we are these depths and that we are here to keep falling more deeply into them.

2 thoughts on “Choosing the Depths

  1. Lovely! Always do what the guides tell us. Because it is sure to lead to where you are talking about. Sometimes the heron appears to reassure us. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to appear. But I am positive it appears somewhere in some form when we heed the interior voice. Thank you.

  2. Yeah, when you’re waiting on a line and are in a rush, and things are taking way longer than you would like them to, it can be very challenging to recollect that the humanity of others. Whether those in line or those toiling to get you whatever you are waiting for. I fall short on this constantly, much to my dismay and shame.
    I remember a relevant anecdote Sunim once shared about a bus ride he was on in Korea. He spoke about his sense of how the driver was assisting him in getting him to his destination (obvious enough), but with a sense of appreciation of how one human being was facilitating the lives of all the passengers. That is the fundamental reality of the situation beyond the transactional/economic level.

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