“Be curious, not judgmental.”
As I sit in my window, I see two magpies hopping around my driveway, casing the four piles of elk poop, some fresh and some frozen, recently uncovered in the spring thaw. (The fresh seems to be more popular.)
February in Idaho saw the biggest snow on record. Everyone, animals included, was in a frenzy. Moose, elk, mountain lions, magpie found themselves in crisis mode, entering our yards to feed on low-hanging evergreen branches, preying on our pets. They behaved out of character, which all creatures tend to do when we’re desperate. They were starving.
I sit here and reflect on the magpie.
When I first moved to town, I was mesmerized by their stunning appearance. People quickly corrected me, explaining their nasty habits and dismissing any beauty I saw. I’ve looked at them with different eyes ever since. Just last week, I caught myself explaining to admiring visitors that they are “just crows, scavengers, not pretty at all.”
Today, I’m taking a minute to look at them differently.
I’ve learned they are one of the most intelligent animals in the world and one of the only animals that can recognize themselves in a mirror. (This is particularly interesting to me because, six years ago, I had a somewhat terrorizing experience involving a magpie that had gotten into my suburban through a cracked window. We had about a minute of arm-thrashing, wing-knocking, poop-flying chaos before we both found our way out of that car. I always wondered if he’d seen his reflection in the window and why he went in. Now, I understand.)
They’re resourceful. And smart. (Smart enough to know that, sometimes, you have to suck it up and eat shit in order to survive!)
I am seeing them differently today, throwing my old way of thinking out the window. Who am I to judge them and the habitat into which they were born?
When we stop and look at things, we see differently, usually with more forgiving eyes. My meditation teacher calls it “being in the classroom of your life.” Practice an observer’s mind. Thoughtful moments manifest as we put more energy toward being mindful.
We all have our crap and our pie-in-the-face moments. We handle them with hysteria or good humor. Our choice. Will we react, or will we pause, observe what is happening (in all its ridiculousness), and respond mindfully? If we choose the latter, that’s the menu option that will probably come up first.
Today’s practice: Find a quiet place, maybe near a window or outside, and try reciting this simple Thich Nhát Hánh meditation. Try five minutes. Then maybe five more later in the day.
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile.”