You know how when something meaningful crosses your awareness and all of a sudden you see or hear about it everywhere? And you don’t really know if it’s some weird magical message from a Martian scientist or if you’re just noticing something that’s actually been there all along?
That is exactly what’s been happening to me lately with this story about salt water. I heard it and then immediately heard it several more times over a week. So I’m going to share it with you.
So there is this wise monk… woah.
::Makes time-out shape with hands:::
IT’S ALWAYS A MONK, ISN’T IT?
Listen. It makes me feel pretentious to tell you yet another story of a wise monk blah blah blah, and since this is my blog and I promote a choose-your-own-adventure life tack, I’d be remiss to not edit here.
::Looks around at nearby items and clears throat::
So there is this very wise (and, apparently, sentient) pinecone and his pinecone student.
The student pinecone, being young and full of angst, had been complaining relentlessly and the old pinecone was getting super sick of it. So, one day he was all, “Here is some salt. I am going to pour it into this glass of water and give it to you to drink.”
So that weird bit of tough love went down.
“How does it taste?” Pinemaster asked.
“Gag,” gagged Youthcone.
Pinemaster, laughing under his Lysol breath with that particularly obnoxious air of knowing what irritates youthcones everywhere but ultimately results in deep learning, leads the apprentice to a lake and throws the same amount of salt in the lake, ladles some into a mug and hands it to the youthcone.
“How about now?” Wisecone asks.
The youthcone, still gulping the fresh water in an effort to satiate his thirst (due to the whole glass of salt water earlier) makes a yum sound and keeps drinking like a thirsty, captive audience while the more experienced cone explains.
“All the grief and suffering of life is salt. The amount of salt in life remains the same. However, the intensity of the taste depends on the size of the container you carry it around in.
So, for the love of all things you should do everything you can to make your heart, and yourself, a bigger container.
Basically, Little Pine Homie, stop being a glass. Become a lake.”
BAM. Tiny piny brain bits everywhere.
So it’s a good story. A great message. But how, you may ask, does one apply this in real human life?
Well it’s easy AND hard.
The hard part is that you have to decide you really want it, that you’re ready to let go of your smallness, your disclaimers, your fears of rejection and judgement, your clutter, your hubris, etcetera, despite the free falling way it feels to release attachment to the identity of your excuses. Yeah. It’s hard, but you do it anyway.
Then you pick a commitment, or a few, that enhance your physical, mental, and spiritual strength and flexibility, and show up for them again and again and again with humility, generosity, and intention. Keep doing them.
Here are some.
1. Breathe deeper, more mindfully.
2. Drink Water. (Not salt water.)
3. Do less, more often. Break things down to the smallest increment that will get you to actually do something rather than nothing. It’s more effective to walk around the block then stay home because you’re too tired and overwhelmed to summit Everest today. And, ultimately, walking around the block could lead to Everest. Or not. It doesn’t matter. But it won’t hurt. Another example: It’s better to write one word instead of zero. I can attest to that one personally. I’ve been resisting the thousand word a day writing practice that writers are always on about forever. So, this year, I’m doing a ONE WORD A DAY writing practice. One. Word. And, all of a sudden, I’m doing these cool acrostics that I would have never done ordinarily. Now and then I win at something.
4. Get rid of your clutter. Please. Stop collecting things that take up space and don’t support you and give you pleasure. Sometimes it just means sweeping the floors and wiping down the countertops to keep it fresh. Sometimes it means people and ideas. You can’t take suffering out of life, but you can take useless items out of your home.
5. Do things that are good for your brain. Read books, art (verb), make something that wasn’t in the world before even if there’s no reason for it other than its cool factor. I’m folding a thousand cranes. It’s a thing. Mostly I just think it’s fun.
(The cranes started like the words, only backwards. I was just going to fold one crane but it was hard and ended up looking like an anteater so I threw it away and made another. Then I made a bunch more until I got pretty good at making them with the directions. Then I decided I wanted to memorize the fold. So I made more until I memorized it.
By then I had a pile of cranes to contend with, so I just decided to make a thousand.
I also have to tell you for no reason at all that it takes me exactly five minutes to fold a crane. I just timed it. I’ll be able to measure time in cranes now, instead of minutes. Combined, I’ll spend three and a half days folding cranes. When I hit the snooze button in the morning I’ll be sleeping for a crane and half.)
6. Pray, meditate, listen, pay attention, be quiet, be vocal. …There are so many ways to level-up your game, stop being a glass and become more like a lake. If you need more ideas, I would be so happy to help. Perhaps we should talk about working together.
You deserve all of the love.
*The image is by demetre janness. The crane by me.