I was walking along the beach last night when Jimin the Piping Plover suddenly appeared at my feet.
I became excited and lost my composure for a moment. But it was not too bad. There was no problem.
Just recognizing that we have lost our composure is, in fact, good composure.
Sometimes when we are seeking happiness, we chase excitement. Maybe you’ve done this. Maybe you’ve struggled against the odds for the thrill of completing some difficult challenge. Perhaps you’ve tried to hold on to something impossibly beautiful, transient, or delicate. Maybe you’ve tried to land a rocket on the moon! Some people will create drama, conflict, mischief, and even violence in a round-about way to find happiness. But none of these things work. Or when they do, they do not last very long, and are never quite as satisfying as we believed they would be.
We are always seeking something, but rarely do we know what we are actually doing.
Peace is all we want, and it is something we already have. It is not something we need to go out and find. Our experience of surviving in the world is exciting enough already. Trying to create even more excitement is probably what distracts us most from this important truth. When we let go of all of our fantasies and come back to reality, only then do we see the calm joy which is always surrounding and supporting us. If you have not experienced this, keep trying. You can’t fail. Even on your last breath you will say “Oh!” and you will see that it was always so.
I was excited because I have not seen Jimin for a very long time, and I love him very much. I have no idea where he has been since he last vanished. I have no idea where he came from when he suddenly appeared last night. I do not know where he is right now, and can’t say with any certainty that he even exists at this moment.
But I have seen Jimin flash into this vast world, then vanish just as suddenly, many times before.
I remember when a small egg appeared from nothing in the sands of Plover Park.
Then I remember when that egg vanished, while a tiny, baby plover named Jimin suddenly appeared nearby.
I remember a week later when Jimin’s family vanished from their home at The Predator Pond, and I remember when they suddenly appeared on the other side of the Park a few days later.
I remember that no one could find Jimin for ten days, so marked him as dead.
And of course I remember the eleventh day when Jimin flashed back into the vast world. I still have no idea where he was all that time, just as I have no idea where he is right now.
I remember losing my composure many times when Jimin returned a year later and started building his own nest.
I remember, just when he seemed most ready to start his his nest, he vanished and reappeared over a mile away.
I remember when his first eggs suddenly appeared in a small impression in the sand as the sun set on Mother’s Day last.
Then I remember when those eggs vanished during the big storm.
And I remember when they somehow reappeared from nothing, while my trembling fingers gently dug for them in the sand.
I remember every time I marched over the dune to check on Jimin and his family last summer. Sometimes he had vanished. Sometimes he would be there, flashing once again onto the vast phenomenal world.
As I looked down at Jimin last night, I remembered all of these things. I tried not get too excited. If the only thing good about this experience is the thrill of Jimin’s flashing back into the vast world, I know that it would later be balanced by an equal and opposite experience of sadness and loss when he inevitably vanishes again.
Regaining my composure, I suddenly became aware of the world surrounding Jimin and I; the sea, the deep blue sky, the feel of the warm sun on our backs. So much more than just Jimin was flashing into the vast phenomenal world at that moment. Everything was amplifying the quality of it. The real excitement was the realization that this strong, warm feeling was the true feeling of every moment. We just get so lost in our striving that we can’t feel it sometimes.
I noticed Jimin putting one leg behind him, and staring impatiently at me. He was wondering if I was going to leave, or if he’d have to.
So I bowed, and turned and walked away, right out of our vast phenomenal world. And I felt a little excited. Because I realized that I was flashing in and out of this vast world too.