Hello and welcome to this glorious Saturday, March 27, 2021. Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again.
This last week, I had the incredible opportunity to spend a few days in eastern Oregon photographing primarily birds. I’m grateful for my privileged life which affords me the opportunity to spend time meaningfully and purposefully connecting with my habitat.
in the evening on the last day, I found myself soaking in the newly renovated Crystal Crane Hot Springs. There is something deeply spiritual about naturally occurring hot water – a connection with a source of life. As I sat virtually weightless, present with the warm water caressing my skin, I was distracted by a gentleman who was roughly my age, a different color, and quite larger than me. He was anticipatingly making his way into the pool. As he quickly submerged up to his neck, I heard him say, “Ooohhhh yahhhh! Now that’s what I’m talking about.” I watched whatever trials and tribulations he may be dealing with dissolve into the Crystal Crane mineral waters. I could see in his eyes that he was fully present and brimming with gratitude.
His outward expression of his feelings was so familiar, it was as if I was having his experience. In that moment, despite the physical differences, I saw myself in him. I was experiencing his sense of absolute joy, simultaneously.
I started looking around at others. I saw three young boys, maybe ten years old. They were splashing and wrestling about, trying to dunk one another. There is a sign above the pool stating, “Have a Splashing Good Time.” Well, that’s exactly what they were doing. I recalled my frolicking days of youth having a blast in not so warm pools trying to overpower and impress my friends. Yes, there I was in those three boys.
I saw an elderly woman sitting peacefully along the newly constructed concrete seat lining the edge of the pond. She was wearing a large-brimmed gardening hat. I found this interesting as it was snowing lightly amidst the gusty high desert evening winds. The sun had been down an hour. Nevertheless, there I was, I saw myself in her, sitting peacefully, meditatively, taking it all in.
I saw a young couple in the newly constructed “Lobster Pot.” There was nothing really unique about them. I’m guessing they were in their thirties; he had a long goatee and she had wavy black hair and a couple tattoos that I couldn’t make out. I watched as they gave their two kids permission to swim the larger pool. I remembered my days as a young parent when I was able to trust my children enough to send them off on their own. There I was again, in that young couple.
Everywhere I looked, there I was.
While it’s important to be able to see ourselves in others as we are all pretty much exactly the same (this is the foundation of compassion), I had the acute awareness that what I was seeing in these beautiful people was in fact my experience. These qualities and characteristics that we tend to see in others are not intrinsic to them. I’m able to see these qualities because I have experienced them myself.
I recalled a lesson from my teacher where he pointed out that “the deliciousness is not in the pie.” I find it hard to believe but apparently some people don’t like blueberry pie!
It was in this moment when I had the realization that others in the pool may not be seeing these very same people in the same way.
Someone else in the pool may have seen that larger, darker, version of myself as foolish and irresponsible. Maybe their experience of him joyfully plunging into the soothing warm water was an escape from reality. It’s possible that they know someone who avoids their work-related responsibilities to have fun at every turn.
Maybe someone else looked at those playful ten-year-old boys as obnoxious, mean, and disrespectful little scoundrels. It could be that at some point in their past they were dunked and picked on by boys like this. Maybe the elderly woman was seen by another as isolating or even antisocial. Maybe another parent saw the young couple as negligent because they let their children go unsupervised into the larger pool.
We interpret the actions and behaviors of others based on our experiences throughout our transient life. It’s important to understand and recognize this about ourselves. If we do not, we have a tendency to believe that what we see is a true and accurate statement about reality. The fact is, we are only seeing our interpretation.
You are Loved by me, Unconditionally!
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