“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” ~ Lao Tzu
For many years I have labored to find subtle ways of self-expression, always taking a path less traveled; one with no footprints to follow. In doing so I’ve found that this logic requires one to enjoy being alone, to become a companion to the shadows of life and a friend to the mysterious. In small groups I am loud, in larger congregations I am mute. This is my sphere.
I enjoy the subtle things. I have a romantic understanding of life. I see the surface and call it beautiful, I see the parts under the surface and call them the same. I love the hidden treasures I find in life, as boring or commonplace as others might view them. When I learn a new word I am delighted, even though others may think me strange for even caring. I contemplate the understandable, but more I contemplate that which rests beyond the boundary of human understanding.
As I sit and ponder these various nuances of life, as tangible or intangible as they might be.. and I do this daily.. I often wonder about the days of Homer, Plato, Lao Tzu and many other great minds. As I drift deep into my thoughts, I picture an image of a man, perhaps wearing some sort of robe while holding a shepherd’s staff standing atop a hill. He is looking out over a vast expanse of empty yet flowing countryside with wildflowers peppering the landscape in clusters of blue, white and yellow. Green meadows wave under his feet, and the land opens up to reveal rolling hills high above a small river. Mountains are visible, though far off in the distance they look only an hour’s walk away. This land is unknown, untouched by discovery, unspoiled by humanity. Much knowledge it holds, this land with no footprints, and the man on the hill smiles with serenity, as he knows life is truly beautiful if you only view it so.
The man isn’t old, but isn’t young either. He stands tall, with a beard and a furrowed brow caused by the sun. He stands with a pensive gaze, yet a grin is visible. He is proud, confident and intrepid. His feet are rough from walking a long path, and his hands are calloused from hard work. He is conscious of his world, connected to it by breath, spirit and mind. In his eyes he knows the land already, but has yet to step a foot onto it. He respects the land, and cares for his flock behind him.
I long to be this man standing atop that hill in a time long ago when many unknowns existed to be found, without the continuous tone of the wristwatch telling me I have somewhere to be or something to do, and without the daily news letting me know all the horrors of the world before I’ve finished breakfast. I would love to not be able to Google everything, and instead seek out the answers for myself even if it may take years. I would love to not be surrounded by gadgets that only last a year before they’re broken or rendered obsolete. I would love to not walk through a store surrounded by bells, whistles and by people who genuinely have no clue what their reflections truly look like or where their thoughts originate. I would love to not have the world at my fingertips, with keyboards and buttons controlling every desire, want and wish. I would love to be smarter than my phone. I would love to not be so “connected.” I would simply love to be connected to the real world, with my bare feet upon the Earth and the wind whispering in my ear.
I probably sound like I’m venting, though I’m really not. I have learned to find peace within chaos through recognizing the simple, and admiring the complicated. And, despite what I may think, feel or understand, life unfolds differently to us all. We’re never sharing the same experience. In fact, what the spectacular view from the hilltop might be to me, may be totally boring to another person taking in the same view.
In many ways I am the man in my vision looking over a land that has potential, realizing what is good, and what is not good; understanding that at any time it will change and it will all be different, understanding more that the change is happening this very second and will always be so. But am I really looking at the land? No.. I’m looking at life, this life, and my reflection upon its waters.
In my sphere many things happen. I dream, I think, I wish and I smile. Just as well I cry, I hurt and I walk alone often; although knowing that I’m never truly alone. All in all, in attempting to understand the unknowable I find peace. When I embrace this completely then I become myself. And as I open my heavy eyes to my own reflection; to my own soul.. I then become the sphere. Everyday, even in this busy age… I am the man standing on the hill smiling.
In many regards we are all shepherds, looking out over the world. We tend to our own lives mostly but we also must remember that our flock, as large or as small as it may appear, represents the entire world of life. The flock is everything; friends, family, coworkers, and yes, even those people you pass by on the street without a word being said. The flock is you, your past, your thoughts and even your plans for the future. And, each day, how we choose to live whether good or bad becomes our world; our reality, our flock. And, where we lead, how we choose to exist our flock will also follow.. or become lost in the unknown.
Discover yourself and embrace who you truly are, but always tend to your flock; always tend to your world. We cannot exist without each other.