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Mindfulness

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I could have sworn I'd written and posted this somewhere before, but various searches are turning up no sign of it, so I'll post it here.

There were lots of fallen leaves on the ground today, which reminded me (somewhat roundaboutly) of two incidents. Both of these are true stories.

First:

Way back in March of 1998, I was driving along on the freeway when I encountered a tricky and unexpected situation. I don't remember what it was at this point, but I think it involved needing to get out of someone's way and having only a narrow gap in traffic to work with. But I navigated through it with grace and ease. I was so pleased with myself that I started singing a song that I learned from a Short Sisters tape; it includes the line "To see when Way opens / takes a little gracefulness."

I finished singing that line.

And then I looked up . . . 

. . . and realized that I had missed my exit.

I decided ruefully that I really ought to change those words to ". . . takes a little mindfulness."

Second:

Some years back, I disremember when exactly but the season was autumn, I attended a writing workshop meeting at Susan L's place in Menlo Park. I went into the house, and as we were sitting around chatting and waiting for the rest of the workshoppers to arrive, I wistfully thought to myself that it was too bad I wasn't out East around about then, because one of the few things I really miss about the east coast, other than friends, is the leaves turning brilliant red and other nifty colors.

Then Mary Anne arrived. She came in looking cheerful and happy, and she handed me a huge gorgeous red leaf.

I gaped at it.

Finally, I sputtered something like, "Where did you get this?"

She said, "Oh, they're all over the sidewalk outside, right in front of the house."

And at the end of the workshop, when I left the house, sure enough, there were big bright red leaves all over the sidewalk. I had been so busy pining for the red leaves out East that I had totally failed to notice the ones that were right there in front of me.

It was practically a parable.

I'll close my sermon for today with a quote from Jon Carroll from some years ago:

"Experience is useless without memory and mindfulness."

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