Two small birds snuggled together on the phone wire with backs to the sunrise-filled sky to the east. Enjoying the sensation of their shoulders and necks slowly warming was probably far more enticing than admiring another extraordinary daybreak display.
Normally, like the birds, I would be in my own little world diligently practicing and oblivious to the sunrise as well. Missing the extraordinary beauty as the sky fills with orange and clouds turn from dusty violet to white over the plains. But on this moon day the dog barked and I came to my senses just long enough to notice the shift in light outside. I dashed upstairs to take a look. There was frost on the deck as I opened the door and stepped outside, toes curling under at the unexpected change in texture and temperature. But I held onto that adventuresome part of me that sometimes steps up to throw caution to the wind, and I pretend I’m not set in my ways. Spontaneity seems so superfluous—and unattainable—when you’re responsible and the one in charge. Which at that very moment seemed like euphemisms for being a slave to the pull of tamasic tendencies.
That morning I was stunned by the silence, the crispness in the air, and the panoramic view. I was deeply moved by the quiet, unobtrusive yet extraordinary background gift of nature patiently waiting in case we glance up. Me thinking I “know” what to do and figuring somebody’s got to take action! When, in fact, if I’d just hit the pause button a bit more often and let things unfold, warming my back to the sun and just listening to the day manifest, perhaps I’d really know what mattered. And what needed to be done.
Usually I’m preoccupied with the presence of more important parts of the day. Like getting my practice in, checking the phone, listening to the news, or sweeping the floor. Conditioned to ignore what’s right before my eyes and becoming stuck in the gutter of samsara, at the mercy of my preconceptions rather than waking up. But it’s okay. I’ll take those rare moments of awareness when they appear. One does seem to lead to another, and if I train myself to notice that I’m noticing, they often open doorways of insight—even as I speed by at a samsaric clip.
Every now and then I look more closely at the pattern of lights in a foreign city while the plane lands or at the beautiful swirl of dust on the floor as I sweep, and I get a passing glimpse of the expansiveness and interconnectedness of things that is far beyond (but supports) my own fixed ideas. Who’s in charge of every one of those lightbulbs and how can I thank them for being there—like the sunrise—as part of the background reality that allows me to blunder through the darkness of my conditioned existence and stumble upon a moment in which to pause, to breathe, to let go, and to trust? Feeling my heart skip a beat occasionally, I dissolve to momentarily not block the view, stepping out of my own way. Maybe that’s what moon days are for: to offer gratitude when I actually notice that I’ve seen a new ever-present dimension, and my sense of truth, meaning, and aesthetic form have been nourished for the day.