Just Watching

I have a magic box that Dennis made for me nearly 40 years ago. It says “You’re Standing on a Bridge, Watching Yourself Go By.” The drawing and quote are from the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass. The box, naturally, is a little the worse for wear. The lettering obliterated in places, the edges of the fabric cover frayed.

I keep little treasures inside. A special letter from a friend. A spike of lavender, a feather, some bits of jade, amber and seashell. A photo of my son when he was six. There’s a button with the Sanskrit symbol for “aum” and a star-shaped, handmade Christmas ornament. All meaningful and full of memories.

What I treasure most though, is the moment of “ah-ha” that the box first brought me when Dennis gave it to me that long ago birthday. Was I really just standing on bridge watching myself  go by? At age 17, I certainly thought I was the prime player in a very important drama. But I never thought of myself as the audience, the director, the star and the author all at once.

As I re-embrace some of the concepts of mindfulness and presence I first learned as a young hippie (gentle laughter here), I realize how embedded that ability to step back and see has become. It’s hard to take yourself too seriously when you make that inner move. It’s also hard to be too critical, too harsh, or unforgiving, when seeing from that broader perspective.

All the sorrows, all the fears are swiftly brought into a clearer focus; seen for the fleeting emotions they are, embraced in the moment, and released to the next. After all, under that bridge I’m standing on is a swiftly flowing river of moment-to-moment-to-moment. And I’m watching in delight, amusement, compassion, and eagerness. . .what will flow by next?

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