The Beginner’s Mind

I only have 19 more work days before I retire. It has been an odd feeling especially with the dramatic changes in higher education, and the world, since COVID-19 entered our lives. Also, when you are identified by so much and by so many with what professional role one plays, it is easy to self identify in the same way – which creates a bit of a discombobulation when you are about to abandon that role. When I say you, I mean me. (By the way, don’t you just love that word discombobulation? It doesn’t seem like it should be a real word. If you were inviting some words to a party, discombobulation would be on my invite list. So would the word ‘rural’ because it does weird things in my throat when I say it. It never feels quite right to me. It is more of a grunt than word. What is that called – guttural?  My issue with rural is probably left over from the days when I couldn’t pronounce my R sounds. )

I have a good Buddhist friend who takes her Buddhism seriously. She studies it all the time. We would occasionally talk about our lives, or books we were reading. Often I would describe something I was doing and the feeling I got from doing it and she would nod that wisdom nod and say, “Ah, the Beginner’s Mind,” and then take a sip of her tea. Not truly understanding what that phrase meant, I had to go study some Buddhism myself, which I really enjoyed. One time she said, “You are making a perfect mess of …” And, I interrupted her saying, “I know, but sometimes my emotions take over…” And, then she said, “No, not that, you’re spilling your hot chocolate all over you.” I looked down at my shirt and she was absolutely correct.

I think the Beginner’s Mind might be the perfect recipe for discombobulation. I would like to write songs again with a Beginner’s Mind. I would like to blog again with a Beginner’s Mind. I got a camera and I am so looking forward to learning about photography. It feels good not to be the expert. It feels good not to be the one with all the answers. I want to learn about pottery…with a Beginner’s Mind. I want to spend time with my faith tradition with a Beginner’s Mind. I want to grow tomatoes and peaches and blueberries as a novice, with no expectations, just with a sense of wonderment. I might even try writing computer code without a goal except to experience it. Maybe try a new instrument.  Learning about lavender is interesting and so is making olive oil.

Until then, here are some flowers for ya, the first gladiola of the year – a Beginner’s Mind it is!  Namaste, it’s a brand new day, mi amigos.