Bang, rattle, bang, I look up from my computer. At the door was an older gentleman (80+) whom I have had occasion to speak with over the past year when he walks his dog. I looked up from my solo study on those near and dear topics to my heart; self-improvement and getting organized. The first I have honed over a span of thirty years (maybe more if I trust my recently discovered musings as a middle-school student) and the second is genetic. My 86 year old father is still bemoans the fact that he is not organized. My life’s journey with both has been rift with struggles, sinkholes, and successes. My personal/ spiritual growth path has wandered from the est training to Siddha Yoga to zen to talk therapy to men’s mythopoetics to chakra balancing to isolation tanks, a long and winding road and not always the road less traveled. In a symbiotic relationship, my genetic disposition to be organizationally challenged and the self-improvement path have been twin poles around a core self that seeks understanding and community. In pursuit of that firebird-like quest I had a glimmer of affirmation at the door.
Clutter or disorganization is largely in the eyes of the beholder. In some circles it is taught that the excess stuff blocks the energy flow to bring the new. Escaping my stuff, I enjoy going to an empty, sterile motel room every couple weeks for inspiration when I am stuck. I can trace an ancestral tradition from my grandparents to my father to my constantly growing stuff. Without a doubt, it increases as we age. If we annually collect the same amount of stuff from say, age 20 til 60, we end up with a shit load of papers, souvenirs, and all manner of tshotsches. Lately, I have been on a mission to cleanse, purge, release, trash, stuff formerly stored in boxes in the attic. Because of this mission (not initiated willingly mind you but that is another story), areas of my house that would normally be free and clear of clutter are now immersed in piles of boxes, papers, and electronic bric a brac. In the best of times, my relationship to organization is estranged (orderly here, messed up over there).
Yesterday, I had a successful run through some stuff that had lain around the office for months. I perused, sorted, and trashed a bunch of old student papers, letters (remember those time capsules?), cancelled concert tickets, posters, and photos. Yeh! Feeling elated and looking at a bright, clear day here at the beach and I decided to reward myself with a bike ride listening to my mp3 player with its five thousand+ songs. I couldn't find it and frustration had me running around the house; high and low, inside and outside the house, the car, and the yard. No mp3 player to be found and then acceptance kicked in. Changing my mind I elected to be hopeful of finding the player tomorrow. I was done and as they say in prayer ‘released’ it and went and had a fine ride at the beach.
Back to the rude interruption from my elderly neighbor who is very hard of hearing, I jumped up and with probably a trace of annoyance in my voice said, “Hi. What is up?” He replied, “I have been trying to find you for days and you haven’t been here. But I found a music player on the sidewalk and figured it must be yours.” Naturally, I thanked him profusely and immediately walked with him to his house which it turns out is only three doors from my house. While waiting outside, I spied a sign in Hawaiian language. I inquired about that and he told me that they used to go to Maui every year for fifteen years until his wife took ill a few years ago.
That did it, icing on the cake of ‘coincidence,’ synchronistic ‘proof’ of the web that connects all of us and the demonstration of personal karma in the present. I have had an abiding fascination with Hawaii since sixth grade (in the cleanup I purge old reports about Hawaii), and lately been visiting Maui twice per year since refiring. I got the old gentleman’s name at last (this is a major metropolis and our culture doesn’t include getting to know your neighbors) and plugged in my mp3 player.
What happened? In my mind, it is the positive karma of being friendly with the elderly dog walker which built a relationship. From that he knew and felt well of me and cared enough to save it for me. Additionally, my peace of mind was preserved by not ‘trying’ to find it endlessly. The evidence of our connection showed up in the Hawaiian sign. Can this result be planned? Absolutely not, but one can build a lifestyle and personality that is open to engaging with others positively and grounding oneself in acceptance of what is. The bottom line is practicing peace of mind. Meditation is a common practice to enhance that state. Practical benefits have been documented scientifically in areas of physical health, emotional health, creativity, sleep, weigh control, and many other areas. These days a great variety of styles are taught that are not religious in nature and the pay offs are sometimes surprising. Today’s benefit? I get to take the bike ride with my five thousand songs.