Yesterday Isabella wrote, “Good and bad are just labels that individuals choose to put on their personal experience.” I’ve been thinking something similar as I walk around town these days, Witherspoon Street in particular. For those of you local to our area, you might recall the precise time each spring that Witherspoon Street bursts into gorgeous snowy bloom while also reeking faintly of rotten meat… the Bradford pear trees (Pyrus calleryana)! While the odor offends the senses, arborists believe it to be a crucial guide for pollinators. And so, the scent is intricately woven into the web of life.
Still, my mind goes to aversion.
There is opportunity for practice here. I can simply watch what is arising, my response to the flowers and also to the odor. There is some comfort in recognizing this is part of the human experience…to label our experiences as “good” and “bad”, to have likes and dislikes. Perhaps this turning away from this particular smell kept our ancestors from eating meat that had gone bad and would cause illness.
But often we turn away from things, uncomfortable emotions, like fear or anger or grief, that need our recognition and compassion, things that are actually requesting our kind attention. And as we turn away from these visitors, we turn away from ourselves…we turn away from our humanity.
So, I’m reminding myself of Rumi’s Guest House. “Every morning a new arrival…/The dark thought, the shame, the malice/meet them at the door laughing and invite them in/Be grateful for whatever comes/because each has been sent/as a guide from beyond.”
– Jess Stevens, curating mindfulness for Isabella