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By Michael Doko Hatchett
"Live your life so that fear of death can never enter your heart. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light. Give thanks for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. And if perchance you see no reason for giving thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself." - Chief Tecumseh
When I find myself ungrateful, lost in a sea of not-noticing much beyond my own ego, I can be assured that anguish and a series of useless neurotic fixations is just around the corner. Who is to blame for my losing awareness/gratefulness? Of course, the answer is me, only me.
What did I do to re-establish this ungrateful state again? Well, the answer is not a dramatic one. Simply this......I have probably started hurrying around. I have probably been eating not so well. And I have probably been less attentive to not watering my seeds of dramatisation, blame, rejection, inactivity, speaking ill of others, or the seed that accepts gossip (even one little bit!) and mindlessly passes it on.
In other words, I have probably been creating sour soil. I saw on TV the other day a happy-faced gardener say “first we grow soil, then we grow plants”. Great saying! And I thought of course the deeper truth is that even the growing of plants is left up to the soil. It's all about the soil! Gratefulness won't grow in a daily life of no respect for breakfast time, nor will it grow if my permanent drip-feeder is set on hurry, agitation, rejection and greed.
So when Chief Tecumseh reminds me that the blame for losing my mindfulness of the awesome reality of life – of the unceasing, unearned gifts we keep receiving as human beings – is with me only, he is asking me to look only to the soil in my own back-yard in which this ungrateful-centred life has been allowed to grow. He is asking me to consider humbling myself, once again, to the earthy basics I keep forgetting (even though surrounded by reminders) or that I keep thinking I can cheat this time!
For me those earthy basics are (and I'd be surprised if these aren't universal) a return to cooking whole-foods at home, less coffee, less indulging in useless story-telling, back to more nourishing routines, getting to bed on time most of the week, and some sincere sitting in silence now and then. Oh, and when I get really lost, Bob Dylan must be there.
Although many things help me re-discover the sanity of gratefulness they all revolve around sincerely slowing down. When slowed down, I notice a bit more about things. Some of the things I notice are the unceasing opportunities to not reject others, the un-called-for beauty of ordinary things, and just how much; really and truly and honestly; I fail to succeed in terms of realistic action.
Nevertheless, in spite of my ways, I keep being received by life unconditionally. I am full with the un-asked-for and much more significant awareness of all that sustains me and those I love. It is this awakening – not some fantastical 'enlightenment' - that carries me to the shore of a new born life. And if it's just for today, that's okay. I'll try to wake-up again tomorrow to just how lucky I am. Such a shore is my true birth. The raft is gratefulness. No one is unimportant. No one is to be left out. Do I really see this? Sometimes. Mostly I fail to. Thanks to all those who keep forgiving me for this day and night, night and day. Thanks to what is inside me that keeps showing me love and understanding. Thanks to what is sustaining us all.
Now.....enough chit-chat, I've got some gardening to do.