Thursday, August 11, 2011

"The Elegance of the Hedgehog"

"The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Murel Barbery Translated from the French by Alison Anderson Europa: 2006

I often get a new and fresh viewpoint from books, but I never expected the perspective from the above book. It is not the plot so much as the way the author looks at the world through two of her characters, a girl and a 54 year old woman. It is not their vision of the world that is breath taking but the way it is done with such freedom and uniqueness that gives the reader the freedom to perform this free flying task oneself. Otherwise, can each of us look at the world on our own without linking our senses to what others have seen before we opened our eyes. The answer is this manual on how we can do it too. At least this is how I am taking the reading of this remarkable book.

I started to question the beginning of the day and to everything that comes across my mind. I saw the beauty of the clear beginning of the sunrise and instead of ruminating of what was not done this morning, I threw the whole thing out. Certainly, a clear day in Portland does not happen all that much and I just enjoyed the sun. Growing up in a Christian household I was always taught we were sinful beings and full of original sin we inherited from the Garden of Eden. I had rejected much of it when I converted to another religion but still felt bad about what I did not do yesterday. No, I am determined not to play that card. It is a wonderful day and I am starting fresh. Why should I slap myself? I did the best I could. That is all any of us can.

There is so much life that comes our way all of the time we often don't see because we are lost in the past. Instead of looking at the crows playing in the branches outside and listening to them cawing in the summer air, I am thinking of what happened years ago or what I had inadvertently said to the apartment manager yesterday. There are zen masters living among us who live mindfully all of the time but I am not one of them. I have to remind myself to skip to the present as I do in meditation. A friend of mine felt a Buddhist nothingness twice in his life and counts it as a precious time. I understand some feel it more. I am not going to beat myself over the head because I don't feel it all of the time either. I just keep trying. What I am going to look for is the squirrels that are playing on tree branches, kids that play on the playground equipment, flowers that are everywhere and those special books that come by every so often.

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