My wonderful partner has a fancy schmancy antique couch. It really is quite nice. Though it may be pleasing to look at, it isn’t very nice to my toes. In the middle on the front of the couch only, it has a decorative leg that sticks out about an inch further than the legs on either end. Occasionally, this painful aberration manages to come into direct contact with my toe(s). When this happens, I’m immediately reminded of how enjoyable it is to not have a stubbed toe. One would think that after striking my toes on the hundred-year-old piece of furniture, more than once, I’d be more mindful of its presence. Well, no-one is perfect – that’s why pencils have erasers. But meow I’m getting away from what I want focus on this week.
When we stub a toe, we can hardly wait until our toe stops throbbing. Yet, when we don’t have a stubbed toe, we seldom call to mind that our toe isn’t smarting as a result of a momentary lapse of awareness.
Buddhist Zen monk and teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, talks about this using the analogy of a toothache. Rarely are we grateful that we don’t have a toothache. For that matter, how often do we call to mind that we don’t have a broken leg, that we are not sick, that we don’t have a headache, sore throat, or cough. How often are we grateful that our hands and forearms are not kitten scratched – oh wait, mine are. It’s not until we experience these painful situations that we appreciate life without them. Why don’t we call to mind our wellness more often?