pilgrimclassic: breathe vs. achieve

Posted originally on 4/3/2008:

like a sunset
What can we do but keep on breathing in and out,
modest and willing, and in our places? ~Mary Oliver

Last night in our Study Group, a friend gave an awesome lesson about world religions and what we can glean from various faith traditions to augment our own spiritual paths. She read a passage about the difference between 'western' traditions versus 'eastern' traditions, specifically noting that western traditions emphasize progression whereas the eastern foster satisfaction with the here and now--"being" in the moment.

I've been thinking about that a lot today. I often work so hard to achieve things, yet I crave just sitting in solitude or the time to lose myself in a flower or to lie across my bed with a purring cat beside me. I have so many lofty goals--books to write, places to travel, classes to teach, and so on. But I feel a tension between the ambition it will take to accomplish these goals...and the desire to sit in solitude.

I think for now I am choosing the latter. And tomorrow I will take up the pursuit again. But today, I may just breathe awhile.

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
~Robert Louis Stevenson


Melissa said...

My new mantra...just breathe, just be!!

Beautiful photo!

D'Arcy said...

beautifully put. i too struggle with this battle between western and eastern thought...which to me shows that maybe both thoughts are on either end of a large spectrum and I belong right in the middle.

Erin said...

Lovely thoughts. It's difficult to just be, even in the best of times. But sometimes that's the best thing to do. Here via dooce, but an instant fan.

betty said...

I found you through dooce also. I wonder if there should be a verb for getting your website discovered because you were mentioned in dooce and suddenly your readership climbs?
(Maybe you've been doocecovered??)
Anyway, do you have a dog? I have a dog, and the thing with dogs is, they always live in the moment. They also remind you to do that.

Ms. Moon said...

That was a perfect quote. I loved it.
I try to think in terms of seasons- in spring and summer, there is growth everywhere and then come fall and winter, and nature rests. We have seasons too. To everything there is a season, right? And now may be a time for you to rest and be fallow so that strength and growth can come in its time. Neither is more important than the other and neither is possible without the other.

Anonymous said...

"A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless"


yoda speaking to obi-wan kenobi's spirit about luke skywalker

a sometime reader of your blog