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The absence of striving for happiness

It's been a lovely day. On my walk today I saw a pileated woodpecker (think Woody Woodpecker) who had worked his way up a dead tree trunk where I saw him last week pecking wood chips at a rate that would make a hard-working landscaper proud. Today, he was at the top of the tree, still pecking -- I heard him before I saw him -- but his whole body was inside a hole and he was creating the space in there for what must be a soon-to-be-occupied nest. I just stood and watched him, mesmerized.

For several minutes, I stopped my walk. I wasn't thinking of the cars on the street. I wasn't worried about counting steps or keeping my heart rate at a certain level. I was just happy to witness this eternal, timeless event. I stayed as long as I stayed. And then, this bird -- I don't even know if it's a male or female -- kept working at its task and I returned to mine.

It was a moment when time and effort just dissolved.

As I walked away, I was reminded of Zhuang Zhou, the Chinese philosopher born 369 BCE (yes, that is almost 2,400 years ago) who dreamt that he was a butterfly and when he woke he wasn't sure if he was a butterfly dreaming that he was a man.

Sometimes, time slows down enough to feel like it not only stops -- it just goes away. May you experience the absence of striving this week. May you experience moments of bliss this week. And may you recognize and savor each one.

Peace and love.


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