Drifting On

The Ultimate DistractionThere are times in life, when it’s very reminiscent of being on a narrowboat, when the main object of each day is to get closer to an overall destination without rocking the boat. Steering the middle way, taking no risks, trying to get to the other end without making waves or upsetting the people you pass along the way.

When you find yourself in situations where the only outcomes you can actually influence are all negative, you find yourself trying to switch off from the effects these situations are having on you. Find yourself trying to create distractions with unrelated things, which will have no bearing on the final outcome.

And this can be so very tiring. Like sitting in a room with no windows, no books, nothing to occupy your mind. Time passes so slowly. As a boy, I would sit on a lake or river bank from the first light of dawn, till the last rays of sunset, fishing for elusive creatures that sometimes never showed themselves.

I was never bored, I was so engrossed that there were times that I forgot to eat my packed lunch. Those summer, and often winter, days flew by even when the trials and tribulations of my teenage years were buzzing around my head. Concentrating on that fluorescent float tip, bright against the dark, slow moving waters, held my attention like nothing else could.

I don’t get to do much fishing these days, I have reservations about the cruelty of the sport, and being a Buddhist means I can’t really ignore that with a clean conscience. But I do have my Practice, my chanting and my prayer which are just as enthralling and can hold my attention even better than my piscatorial past.

So I’m moving ever closer to my goal of enlightenment through my daily practice. Being able to see the bigger picture means that I can actually measure the progress. It also means that these awkward situations are there in the background, and although I never ignore or forget about them, that my boat is a little steadier each day.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

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