Imagine a father standing outside a bowling alley. The father’s children are ages 5, 6, and 8. The father is trying to explain in a very simple way the basic tenet of Zen philosophy.
AUTHOR NOTE: So, I’m not saying I’ve studied Zen in a collegiate context. Rather, I’ve put together a synthesis of ideas that are probably more appropriately called a patchwork of Eastern thought.
And the father tries to summarize his thoughts in one grand metaphor, a metaphor that a five-year-old would understand. And so he begins saying, “The wonderful thing about this universe, this life, is that if you listen very closely and are attuned to the wondrous realities swirling around us …”
AUTHOR NOTE: At this point, I drew myself up to my full 6-foot height and being to swing my hands up expansively, as though trying to indicate to my children that the canvas I’m talking about is immense. In fact, the entire universe.
At this point, the father reaches as high as he can, hands extended to his side somewhat, resembling a beseeching televangelist. He has paused with his didactic storytelling, trying to sum up in his own mind before actually allowing the words to spill out of his mouth. After all, he knows kids at that age are impressionable. Who knows what is said at that moment in time will change the future of his children’s lives.
He starts bring his hands down, intending to end in some kind of beseeching pose, trying at least in part to show how serious the subject matter is. But that’s when the message met the messenger. Because as he was bringing his hands down …
AUTHOR NOTE: This actually happened. In part, this blog site has a purpose of trying to expand on this event and share the experiences.
… a butterfly flits into view.
And not just any butterfly, a fully textured, wonderfully orange and black butterfly. A Monarch. It is flying at the father’s waist line, which is about the height of each of his three children. And the father realizes that if he can seize the moment (a la carpe diem), he can show and not just tell this lesson to his children.
And he brings his hands together, cupping them, hiding from his children’s eyes the treasure within, and finishes his sentence. “… is that if you’re ready, you can capture the magic that surrounds us.”
At this point, the father uncups his hands.
Well, the children are dumbfounded. The father had been so fast, and the children had been staring at his face, because he had been so forceful in what he had been saying, that the children hadn’t seen the butterfly at all until the hands unfolded!
The father softly shoos the butterfly off, turns, and begins walking. “Now, let’s go throw some bowling balls.”
AUTHOR NOTE: That was about 20 years ago. Next month, I’m going to travel to where he’s attending college so I can see him earn his Ph.D. Oh, and it’s in physics. Now that’s what I call magic.
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