With our recent 4 days of riding the rails (sounds much more romantic and adventurous than "train trip", doesn't it?), we had plenty of opportunity to meet with people and talk.
One gentleman we met, I would guess somewhere in his 70s, was a lovely down-home-philosopher with farm-weathered skin, bright eyes, a delightful curiosity, and a gift for story-telling. One of his stories came from the start of his trip, and went as follows...
His plans for the trip included bringing along $1500 cash. To keep it safe, he had sewn together two little leather square-shaped pockets. $800 was folded to fit into one of the leather pockets, which he then slipped into his left boot. The
remaining $700 was folded to fit into the other leather pocket, which he then slipped into his right boot.
The money travelled around in his boots while he did some shopping and errands in Winnipeg the day before the rail trip started.
At some point in the day, when getting back into his car, he noticed a bunch of money on the floor. He quickly realized that it was likely the money from his boot, so he scooped it up and counted it out... $800. "Whew", he relaxed a bit.
He then reached into his other boot for the $700, but unfortunately it was gone. All of it.
In a bit of panic, he was immediately mentally tracing his day while lamenting the value of the loss. He was NOT someone whose income and lifestyle
would consider that amount to be trivial. But, the significance of his story for him and for us, was not in his initial experience of the loss, but in the genuinely sincere thought that came to him shortly thereafter...
"It occurred to
me, well, someone must have needed it more than I did."
Our hearts melted.
As I was listening to his story (which he told with rich visuals and cradled with much care), a smile was growing on my face. I was getting
a sense of where the story might be going. You could see and feel that he was someone who wasn't lost in the incredibly convincing personal particulars of his life, but who had a great respect for, and understanding of something much more... the significance
of the heart, and the potential for leaning toward respect and trust in the greater mystery of life.
What was significant for me in the story was not so much the form of the actual thought that occurred to him (as if we all should have
the same thought), but in the switch that happened within, that moved him from the personal to the philosophical. He had an insight.
His own deeper knowing of life and thought allowed him to avoid getting entrenched in the personal particulars
of the event, unhelpfully digging into what he already "knew" to manage and control his experience. Instead, he instinctively relaxed, leaving room for wisdom to arise, resulting in the receipt of a personal gift that turned his personal, conditional, and
limited perspective, into an experience that was impersonal, unconditional, and universal.
The interesting thing is that we can't "make" this particular change of thought and perspective happen. And yes, we can certainly use our own personal
intellect to come up with all sorts of alternatively helpful ways of seeing any situation in a better light. But, if none of those ideas somehow makes it through the cracks of our closed little personal "knowing" mind, and into our KNOWING heart, they won't
be of any lasting effect. They will remain ONLY as ideas.
As someone who spent years searching for, finding, and then trying to cram other people's insights into my own heart, I know of that which I speak! LOL! Few of the ideas ever made
it past my intellect.
What I didn't realize during ALL that time was that ideas don't move from somewhere outside to be consciously placed into the depths of my soul. Instead, they arise from "within" (wherever the heck that is), dropping
into the open and trusting heart that somehow leaves room for it.
It's fortuitous that my friend Catherine posted this beautifully simple quote by Dicken Bettinger today, just as I was writing this story... "Wisdom loves an open mind".
How lovely. I'll leave it at that.