Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

what I’m learning on vacation ~

I’ve been spending time w/ a five-year-old. It’s been enlightening — literally :). Alysia is one of the best Buddhist masters I know ~ she is teaching me how to see.

I think I’m pretty observant. Writers — especially poets :) — generally are. Birds are individuals to me, as are their songs. And I know leaves and trees and a lot of flowers, even animal tracks. But it turns out that’s not really ‘seeing.’ It’s not being in the moment, if that makes sense…Alysia has taught me that.

The other day there was a hummingbird outside the doors to the deck. It was hovering at the door, scoping out the fuchsia in the corner planter. Alysia was ecstatic.


“OMG!” she almost screamed in delight. “I never saw a real hummingbird in my whole life!” This is her standard response to so many things I take for granted that I’m rethinking most things — not just seeing. She proceeded to draw the dun-colored female hummer from the moment’s glance the hover offered.

The drawing looked amazingly like a hummingbird, especially for a five-year-old. In that brief moment, Alysia had absorbed its colour, the curved beak, the stubby body and the slender wings. How did she do that? I can’t imagine trying to draw a hummer from memory.

And that’s part of the problem. I can’t imagine even trying. Why not? What happens between 5 and 10×5 to change our attitudes? Why wouldn’t I try? Who’s judging me? Who cares??


Thanks to my five-year-old Zen mistress, I am trying to really be present. I am trying to see a hummingbird, a snake, a leaf and a piece of blue Playdoh as clearly and with as little baggage as possible. I can’t tell you how many books, articles, essays etc. I’ve read on ‘being here, now.’ But it took a five-year-old to show me. You have to have a truly open mind: you have to stop ‘thinking about’ and be. It’s so much harder than it sounds…

So thank you, Alysia. I may actually remember this time :)

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