The beginner’s mind

“…the open mind, the attitude that includes both doubt and possibility, the ability to see things always as fresh and new…is needed in all aspects of life.”    —Shunryu Suzuki

One of the best things about having children is watching them learn about their world. Every day brings something new into their lives, a new sensation, a new sight, a new experience. Sometimes when they are restless I take them outside and lay them on the freshly fallen leaves and they are suddenly still. I imagine the flood of perception washing over them, how the blades of grass must tickle the back of their necks, how the leaves crinkle when they move. I imagine what the tree’s canopy above them must look like, branches silhouetted against a cloudless sky.  They are taking it all in; all else is forgotten.

How is it that part of what it means to grow up seems to be loosing that freshness? Must it be so? Shunryu Suzuki didn’t think so. I don’t practice Zen Buddhism, but I do appreciate my babies’ everyday reminder to keep my mind open to what the day brings. When I do, I enjoy myself more. And my bread is better. I listen to the dough, and I am content to wait. On days that I forget to do this, the bread is part of a routine that I have performed hundreds of times. My mind is elsewhere, unable to notice the cues beneath my fingers. Most of the time it still works out, but that is not why I do what I do. I love remembering that I will never be a master of this process. So, thank you Sam and Hazel for the daily reminder!

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