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At one time I lived in a beautiful part of California called Ojai. The upper Ojai Valley is filled with huge walnut and oak trees that stand out against a backdrop of scrub and high chaparral.
The seasons are marked by the changing native grasses and flowers. Each year begins in purple clover and white apricot blossoms, followed by seas of wild yellow mustard. Then come the endless green fields of wild oats which slowly turn tan. And, if you know where to look, you can find clear, perennial streams and pools that swell with the spring rains.
One of my greatest pleasures was the freedom to disappear into the nearby mountains to walk along these streams. I enjoyed climbing in their stony beds, hopping from rock to rock. There was always so much to take in and, I must admit, sometimes I did more than just take in the special atmosphere. If I was lucky, I’d spot an especially knurly piece of walnut or manzanita, or an exceptional stone, and take it home with me.
One afternoon I was quite a ways into the hills following a rain-swollen stream, when I saw it: a fist-sized rock whose colors were unlike any I’d ever seen before. It lay partially submerged in the stream. In a moment or two, I reached its secret hiding place and was holding it in my hands. Another treasure to take pleasure in I thought to myself as I turned to head back home.
Forty-five minutes later I placed my newest natural wonder on a wide, old wooden bench, next to a small collection of bonsai trees just outside my back door. It fit in well with my eclectic collection of odds and ends from the mountains. Then, making sure everything was in its right place for the last time, I went inside.
The next morning when I got up and went outside to admire my unusual find, what a shock was waiting for me. Where just the day before had sat an almost luminescent stone now squatted a dull, lifeless rock. It was as though it had somehow died overnight. In another instant, I realized exactly what had happened.
The stone’s beauty was gone because it no longer had the stream’s water running over it to keep it sparkling. It was dry and dehydrated. No moisture, no shine; no shine, no glory. In that moment, the mistake I had made was clear, and I knew I would never make it again. That rock belonged where I had found it in the stream. That’s where it should have been left.
This simple outdoor story holds important inner lessons for us on many levels, but one stands out from the rest. Even though they may sparkle at first glance, learn to leave troubling thoughts and feelings where you find them.
For example, why pick up that bad feeling that always attends someone else’s careless remark, just because it momentarily attracts your attention? You don’t have to take it home with you. Just leave it where you find it.
Why wait until your mind is broiling to realize, that while negative thoughts seem to be teeming with life, what they really are is a form of psychic parasites. Leave all such dark forms where you find them, in the mud of the “me” mind. That’s where they should stay.