I know nothing about enlightenment and I do not pursue it.
I have, however, read about it so I am aware that it has something to do with waking up. As for myself some days I am more awake than others but never in the way I have read about it. However, I came close in 2008.
It happened like this. I was going through an extremely difficult part of my chemo and my son from Vancouver and my daughter and two year old granddaughter Sophie from Ottawa, flew out to spend a week with me.The first morning after their arrival, I woke to the sound of Sophie calling out: Nana. Where are you?
I stumbled out of bed and padded across the hall to where she was sleeping. I opened the door and there she was standing up in her crib and practically vibrating with joy.
Nana! Nana! I woked up, she exclaimed, her sweet face ablaze with happiness. And in that instant I woke up too with a surge of joy, laughter and love that has carried me through ever since.
My enlightenment was not the kind the mystics describe but it was oh so perfect for me. After all these years, when I wake up I already know my day is off to a good start no matter what else is going on.
This old memory arose in my heart today as I was out walking with a friend. The sun shone and the great blue heron lifted off across the canal with his majestic wingspan in all of his glory. And I remembered that moment when Sophie declared that she woked up. And I am grateful now as I was then.
Everyday that we wake up we have an opportunity to do at least one lovely thing for ourselves and for another.
author, distinguished professor of Psychology and Management, and thought leader, had this to say on “waking up.”
“Wake up in the morning with a specific goal to look forward to. Creative individuals don’t have to be dragged out of bed; they are eager to start the day. This is not because they are cheerful, enthusiastic types. Nor do they necessarily have something exciting to do. But they believe that there is something meaningful to accomplish each day, and they can’t wait to get started on it. Most of us don’t feel our actions are that meaningful. Yet everyone can discover at least one thing every day that is worth waking up for. It could be meeting a certain person, shopping for a special item, potting a plant, cleaning the office desk, writing a letter, trying on a new dress.
It is easier if each night before falling asleep, you review the next day and choose a particular task that, compared to the rest of the day, should be relatively interesting and exciting. Then next morning, open your eyes and visualize the chosen event—play it out briefly in your mind, like an inner videotape, until you can hardly wait to get dressed and get going. It does not matter if at first the goals are trivial and not that interesting. The important thing is to take the easy first steps until you master the habit, and then slowly work up to more complex goals. Eventually most of the day should consist of tasks you look forward to, until you feel that getting up in the morning is a privilege, not a chore.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (1934-2021)
Please carefully note that Mihaly is not talking about the treadmill or just being more efficient and productive. He speaks of something to look forward to.
Children and certain adults are great examples.
Sophie at two was aware, in her own way of the joy of waking up. My friend John who died twelve years ago was also aware of this great privilege. In a phone conversation shortly before his death I was telling him about a particularly great day.
He gently reminded me that they are all good days. “You woke up,” he said. And I agreed. When I hung up from our talk, at that time, I thought about Wu Men’s little poem written hundreds of years ago that I love. I pass it on once again. A little gift for today.
Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life. Wu-Men (1183-1260)
Note 1:) The seminal work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. You pronounce his name like this: (Me-High Chick-sent-Me-High) Once you know, it’s easy.
Note 2:) Rumi has a special suggestion for what to do with a day. I think of it as an invitation to mend our fences when appropriate. “Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Note 3:) For those of you who enjoy landscape photography here is a link to this year’s winners I spotted this first in The Atlantic but I prefer the original site where you have more options.
Note 4:) Thursday is American Thanksgiving. To all of my friends, family and my American readers. May you have a lovely day with family and friends and may you take the time to celebrate with each other and count your blessings. I send all of my dear readers my best wishes and so much thanks. Warmly, Trudy