the way

I’m about halfway finished eating my supper, a quickly thrown together affair composed of a slice of bread, a Dr. Praeger’s veggie burger, a few leaves of romaine, some sautéed shitake mushrooms and a small Persian cucumber sliced into ribbons. The oven broiled veggie burger is placed on top of the toasted bread and lathered with a liberal smear of leftover homemade peanut sauce. The mushrooms are sprinkled on top, next the lettuce and cucumbers, and the last bit of the peanut sauce poured over the whole assemblage. There is no way to eat this except with a fork and knife. After a few bites I finally notice how satisfying this meal is, how slowly I am eating, and how delicious it is!  Cutting the rest of it up in the way a mother does for her child so that there are equal size pieces of everything to fork, I finally look down to admire what is left…


Conscious of the unusual way of eating this, I consider that the whole thing could have been picked up with fingers and eaten like a sandwich. Or I could have worked my way through the layers one at a time. Would I be appreciating the crunchiness of the toast even where it has soaked in the sauce at the edges the same way? Would I notice how the savory mushrooms became chewy in the sautéing if I was eating them just by themselves? Would the crisp refreshing lettuce and cucumber be as satisfying? Would I be able to discern that just the right amount of sauce was added to enhance each distinct flavor and texture rather than blending them all together?

This meal is paired with a glass of my new favorite red wine called ‘The Other’. The label is clever. It tells me the wine is a perfectly blended combination of ‘this’ – 50% cabernet sauvignon, ‘that’ – 40% merlot and ‘the other’ -10% syrah. Then there is the provocative drawing on the label…


I notice the way in which I am experiencing this image. What I see first is a naked woman viewed from behind. Next I see a woman sitting in virasana (a seated yoga pose), with arms stretched up overhead. I then notice the flow of energy running through the curve of the womans spine. I finally register that the curve is not a typical one, that in fact it might suggest scoliosis or an abnormality in the natural, neutral curves of what is considered a typical spine. Why this particular image, drawn this particular way, is gracing the bottle of this wonderful wine is simply a mystery.

It’s now the next morning, humid and overcast after heavy rains. I can feel the damp heaviness already pulling on my clothes as Nora and I approach the opening to the trail. Walking slowly through the still air while swatting at the persistent flies and mosquitoes that hover in moisture,I begin to think about the way of perceiving that can change a belief. I can’t shake the image of that undulating spine on the bottle, and don’t want to accept that the image is simply a form of branding, a clever marketing ploy to suggest seduction and trigger desire. I feel anger under the resistance. The feeling of being exploited. Why an image of a naked woman? Why not a naked man? Now there is resistance to accepting the anger. And so on….

Walking along in this bubble of resistance I am acutely aware of the annoying buzz of insects that seemingly want to get inside my head. So I try to divert my attention to the trees that are with me this morning. All tall with firm straight spines. As if challenged now to consider how or why a tree might grow in a different way, I begin to look for any tree with a curved trunk. Clearly it is not typical. For the entire length of the next five minutes I only see the undisputed vertical reach of trees firmly rooted in the earth. And just as I consider that it may not be possible for a tree to grow with a curve in its spine, this beauty comes into view…


She is standing alone in a clearing on the path. It is such a surprise to see her vulnerability and strength so plain for all to see. I imagine that something presented a challenge to her way.  Her growth simply changed direction but she didn’t let this stop her from seeking that place that all trees aspire to.

Okay, I realize my thoughts have run a bit amuck here. Does the growth of this tree really have anything to do with an image of a naked woman on a wine bottle or the way in which one eats a meal?

Heading down the trail back to the beginning of the loop, I’m walking faster than I normally do, anxious to get away from the relentless bugs still nipping at my ears. And then the shift finally comes. I think of the way I have always regarded these buzzing insects with disdain, annoyance, and resistance. What if I didn’t experience them this way? What if I just relax and let them be, let me be? And poof, just like that, the buzzing stops. My entire field of vision changes.  Resistance is gone and I can finally enjoy the gorgeous moment of dark wet tree trunks dancing in the morning green the way it is after a heavy rain.


3 thoughts on “the way

  1. Lovely piece. I’m siting on my front porch on a cool summer night and enjoyed reading this. My mother had scoliosis and she would have agreed w you!


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