A Summer Afternoon in 1972

This is the first time that I’m cross-posting between these two sites. Please, let me know your thoughts about this way of sharing.

On my travel page, VagabondStew, I posted an article about a hitchhiking trip from Dallas to Denver. (Ellie Hoskins article, to your right.) It relates the story of an afternoon I spent talking with an an older woman, as she prepared me a meal. What I want to do here, is to relate that story to mindfulness and illustrate some ways that I’m learning from Ellie Hoskins, even forty-six years later.

Out of respect for her, and the etiquette of her time, I’ll refer to her as Mrs. Hoskins. She was a beautiful and gracious woman, who took time out of her day to entertain an adolescent stranger in her home, and to make him feel important. I am grateful for Ellie Hoskins.

On a late July day, in 1972, Mrs. Hoskins sat on her porch, enjoying the shade and watching the cars go by. As she did, a young man came walking up the sidewalk, wearing a broad brimmed hat, carrying a homemade pack made of corduroy. “Mornin’!”, she called, little knowing that she was about to make a life-long impression that would affect countless others, in time.

If you’ve read the story, then you already know what she did and how grateful I was, and still am. Here’s the way that I interpret that story today.

Mrs. Hoskins was a mindful woman.

Although that term was not used at the time, as a traveling Methodist minister, she had undoubtedly spent many hours in prayer and meditation.

She knew who she was.

Considering her own frailties and her place in this world, even at eighty-six years old, she knew who she was, and didnt hesitate to express it.

Time in meditation and walking mindfully can also help us come to understand who we are, and how we fit into our own worlds. If you’re religious, you’ll find this in the words of scripture.

She was not hesitant to be kind. We shouldnt be, either.

It may sound cliché to say, but Kindness is one of the most important attributes to develop, if you want to be happy. Acting kindly immediately releases serotonin, which makes you feel good.

A consistent practice of kindliness reduces stress, which is good for your heart. People who practice kindness are less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

Think about it.

In your meditation, today, think about Ellie Hoskins and others like her. Who has shown you kindness? Have you expressed your gratitude for them? If not, I’d encourage you to take a few reflective minutes. It’ll be good for you.

Be the Leaf

Leaves in the Stream…

Most modern humans see things from a self-centric viewpoint. It’s what we’re taught from birth. When things go wrong, we’re supposed to look for a lesson or reason. Most of the time, though, there isnt one. Life is just happening, and we’re there.

I believe that we move as participants in the flow of Life, rather than the focus — proverbial leaves in a stream. Floating downstream, the leaf is not the point. Nothing the stream does is for or about the leaf. Flowing over stones, between the roots of trees, plunging over waterfalls, these would all happen just the same if the leaf werent there. Life is like that. By accepting that this flow is neither for us, nor about us, we can let go of the guilt and responsibility of “doing it right“. By simply taking an objective viewpoint and moving in harmony, we are free to enjoy each moment for its own wonder.

However, if we perceive that everything happens with us in mind, life can be overwhelming. We begin to ask, Why me? Am I supposed to learn something from this? Should I have done something differently? Then guilt climbs in, and regret, and depression. While I believe that God exists, and is involved in our lives, I dont think that all of reality is customized for each individual. In most cases, something simply happened and you were there when it did. Most of the time, things arent about us. They’re just part of the flow.

Understanding this has freed me from the guilt and regret that I used to experience. It  leaves me free to float, accepting what is, and to respond in whatever way seems best. I’m grateful for that.