One of the disadvantages of aging is that you finally do get a chance to do what others applaud from a wishful distance -- "smell the roses." With time to spare, the impact of what was once casually noticed and dismissed picks up steam. The "small stuff" that once went untended has a chance to flower and assert itself. It is as if you had a large room in which to store thought and emotion and when the space filled by workaday life was emptied -- eight hours a day, five days a week -- the bits and pieces relegated to small corners claimed and filled that empty space. "Nature abhors a vacuum" and that certainly seems to be true of the large room where I live.
But the flavor changes. For example, this morning I was reading the tale of a "group stroll" in China. "Group stroll" is a code word for protest and this particular 12,000-strong stroll was aimed at real and potential pollution generated by a local plant. But whereas in the past I could read such stories with an 'adult' distance -- it's just 'news,' right? -- nowadays I find it harder and harder to keep my distance. This is people, something within me says, and people are seriously important. I am still not inclined to join in some group whine about such matters -- whining is too self-serving in my book -- but nowadays I am moved and sad...and would prefer not to be sad. I have never been very good at crying. Perhaps it is time I learned.
Martin Luther King once observed, more or less, "It's not what's wrong with the world that scares people. What really scares them is that everything is all right." This is not a position one man can sell to another. But it is a position anyone might choose to investigate and actualize.
After breakfast, I will go out and do a little zazen among the roses.
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