Watching Minnows

I want to get back to watching minnows like I did when I was very young.  Not thinking; just observing.  I used to be very good at Not Thinking.  And I was inherently happy pretty much all of the time.

My dad, who passed just a few months ago, was the only one to ever comment on my summer pastime.  He’d smile and say that I was the only kid he’d ever seen who could lay on the dock for hours and just watch minnows.  I think he may be reminding me of that now again.  It was always paired with the story of how I was born with an enlarged heart.  He always found a way to bring that up whenever I did something that exhibited compassion and was a bit of an enigma, given the apparent pattern of my life at the time.

About 5 years ago my self seemed to be spinning out of control, and the best thing I could think of to do was to go somewhere and Not Think for a few days.  So I packed up the dogs and some camping equipment, bought some fly fishing gear, and took the ferry to a remote forest service cabin north of Craig, Alaska.

The short version of that experience is that on the third day of fishing and sitting I felt myself break open, and realized I needed to Let Go of Everything.

A couple of weeks later I flew to Portland and attended a weekend retreat on Bringing Your Mental Self Back Home by a Thai Zen Master, Supawan Green.  I went home afterward and read The Zen of Recovery several times.

For the past 5 years I have been studying Buddhism and exercising my brain daily; contemplating on how to get back to the happy and clear-minded state that I enjoyed as a youngster.

Somehow a switch in my brain flipped recently and I now know that it’s not about trying and working at it.  It’s about Not Trying and Not Thinking.  The Truth of Reality has been there all the time, just watching me swim around in circles.

It’s about watching minnows.

This Is It (Enso), by Thich Nhat Hanh

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