Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Road Trip, the Goats, and Mindfulness

Yesterday I posted about mindfulness. I must have mindfulness on my mind, because I have more to say...

My good friend Bob Hodges visited for a couple days this weekend. He's on the return end of a 10,000-mile road trip from Washington state to Key West - and back. We're at the half-way point of his return trip, so it was a good rest for him.

His destinations are cool - Key West on the way out, and his wife Allison's birthday when he returns home. But with Bob, the journey is as important as the destination. Bob deals with MS, so he wakes up every morning truly glad to be alive. The way he sees it, each day has the potential for adventure. And that's how he approaches his road trip. He has dozens of friends all over the country, so he spontaneously creates his itinerary as he goes. The excitement is in considering all the options and then going where the joy is.

It's an instinctive, mindful way of traveling - an approach that makes for surprises, adventures, and stories. Bob has more stories than you could put in a book.

But will he make it home for Allison's birthday? "It's my goal. But Ally gave me a free pass on that one," Bob said with a grin.

While Bob was here, he got to see the goats strolling past our backyard fence. Our property shares a border with a ranch that raises goats. We often hear them before we see them, and Kathleen says, "Goats! Goats!" Then we go to the fence to watch them pass by. Old goats, baby goats, and everything in between, goats of every imaginable color pattern. Border collies keep them moving in the right direction on their tour around the edge of the ranch, grazing as they go.

It's easy to be mindful when you're watching goats. It's a little like watching fish 40 feet underwater. 

Every now and then we'll be in the back yard and hear the desperate bleating of a single goat. There must be something they want on our side of the fence, because it's usually a goat that has stuck his head  through the fencing and his horns are preventing him from backing out. When Kathleen first discovered this, she had trouble freeing the goat. They're strong and their fear instincts kick in.

It became my job to free the goats. I found that if I became like the goat, I could grab the horns with enough strength to quickly guide his head back through the fence. Logic isn't much help in this situation. It takes an instinctive kind of awareness.

Without a doubt, we need more mindfulness in our lives. We're born this way, but in a civilized world the ability to perceive purely is mostly trained out of us. We're taught a different way of looking at the world. But we need to relearn the skill. Learn by doing. Learn mindfulness by being mindful and getting better at it with experience. 

I'm not recommending that we spend our entire lives in a state of wonder. But wouldn't it be nice to be mindful frequently, any time we wanted?

Another Fortune Cookie for you:

Embrace the moment, and life will stand still for you.

More Fortune Cookies...

The story behind the Fortune Cookies...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., , Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

Kathleen Scott said...

I think it takes courage and strength too to be a goat free-er.

Mindfulness brings us joy...and no one has too much joy.