Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Tue 12/3/2002 12:42 AM
Random Thought: Look At The View

A very, very good morning. It's 3:00 a.m. Can't sleep. Thinking about something that happened in class yesterday. One of the students came up to me, smiled, and said something quietly to me. I smiled back. And, in the spirit of Forrest Gump, "That's all I'm going to say about that."

While I waiting for the warm milk to kick in to drug and drag me back to sleep, I find myself re-enacting an insignificant incident that occurred while Susan and I were driving home last Saturday from West Tennessee. We were on those boring ribbons of concrete we call a super-highway. It was early morning. We figured we'd beat both the sun and the bumper-to-bumper Sunday holiday traffic. Almost no one was on the road. Susan quickly fell asleep. I was alone with NPR. I went on automatic pilot. Nothing was registering. I was driving along totally unaware. Violating my own warning of "don't eat and dirve," all those holiday fixings on which I had overdosed were keeping me in a caloric daze. I succumbed to a "tryptophanic fatigue."

I had been driving for hours. I didn't notice the beauty of the mountains that through which we were winding our way. I was missing a lot. Susan woke up and started looking around. As she learned over to give me a peck on my cheek, she suddenly exclaimed, "Look at that view!" So much for the loving kiss. Nevertheless, I felt as if I was injected with an antidote to the energy draining tryptophane that all those days of turkey left overs were still throwing into my bloodstream. I snapped to attention and felt a surge of energy. It was like Susan had dramatically pointed to a circled place on a map and excalimed, "There!" I felt present, of being there now. The monotonous rhythms gave way to an exciting dance. As my eyes became deeply seeing, roving microscopes, I felt as if the car was slowing. I began to notice details: an early morning thick blanket of white fog lazily laying in the valley like a tired nimbus; individual branches of the bare trees lining the valley side of the highway spider veining the bright blue backgroud sky; clumps of grass or a single tree clinging desparately to the rock cliff along the mountain side of the highway; a lone, large bird gliding in cicles at the distant end of a valley; strangely shaped shadows thrown across the highway by the the rising sun's rays; a single rock lying on the shoulder of the road; the patchwork of individual faded colors that quilted the mountain sides. I found myself finding and cherishing the great value of small things rather than looking for sweeping vistas that might hold matters of cosmic importance. There was an exciting majesty even in what seemed the most ordinary and trivial sizes, movements, shapes, and textures. The wonders that abound from attentiveness to the present moment.

It's a good lesson for the classroom that was brought home yesterday. Look at the view. The wonders that abound from attentiveness! It does not take much to be in a daze. It is easy to succumb to monotonous rhythms. It takes a lot of energy, desire, effort, and commitment--and practice--to be awake. Oh, but when I look at the view, I feel a "nowness." When I am in attendance as I take attendance, when I am there and not somewhere else, when I bring an energy and excitement with me, when I really see and listen to what is all around me in that classroom, when I am totally present in the middle of all those neat people with nothing left over, when I am mindful and connected to each one, I feel myself swathed in magic. It is a delicious perfume that scents everything I feel, think, see hear, and do. It opens my eyes and ears and heart to a world of ceaseless wonders. I am a receptive audience for the little epiphanies and little miracles that come my way.

Look at the view. The wonders that abound from attentiveness! When you do that, it is like, as the Sufis say, tasting--and savoring--all the treats of the banquet set before you right now.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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