“For things to reveal themselves to us,
we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
There is really no other way to see things than the way they always have been seen or to do things other than the way they’ve always been done, right? It’s worked for years–the way you’ve mowed the yard, the route you’ve driven to church, the way you’ve run the computer program, and probably the way you’ve made that favorite recipe. If it isn’t broken, why try to fix it? Imagine, though, that there could be something you have missed that could add joy to your life, that could shorten a task, or that could just make life more pleasant. You and I will never experience those revelations if we aren’t willing to do as Thich Nhat Hanh suggests, and be ready to abandon our views…even if for just a moment.
Almost nine years after my high school graduation, I received a Bachelor’s degree. I had been on a four-year plan to get a degree, get a real job, and live life. Life slowed down my plan and took me on a new course, and I can assure you I was not ready to abandon my views and set myself up for disappointment and hardship. I worked for a while, then went back to school, married a great guy, had our first son, and graduated college–in that order. The train jumped the track I was on and actually landed on a track that brought a much happier life than I could have ever imagined.
Cutting, meaning changing direction, is an important skill for an athlete when he is running in a game. It seems to me that if we practice ‘cutting’ in our lives, we will be better equipped to change direction when necessary instead of continuing in a predictable or endangering direction. Ankle power and single leg direction might not matter as much to us as to athletes, but surviving and enjoying life surely will. When will you and I need to change direction quickly, and how do we train for it? It begins with being ready.
Born 90 years ago in Vietnam, Thicht Nhat Hahn must know a thing or two about being ready to abandon views that no longer serve us. From Vietnam to the United States to the south of France, this monk has had many things revealed to him, but he first had to be ready to to abandon his views. To me, the most important part is in being ready to abandon a view, not necessarily abandoning it. Being ready means being open-minded, being able to see things in life differently. I don’t have to agree with the other view, but if I can at least be ready to abandon my view of things, it seems that those wise words make a lot of sense for my joy in life, and most likely for yours, too.
There is little that I value more than being able to adjust my thinking long enough to see what someone else is seeing, feel what someone else is feeling, hear what someone else is teaching. It doesn’t mean that I have to change anything about me, just that I’m ready to abandon my view of what I think is correct. I want my children and grandchildren, my spouse and my parent, my friends and strangers to be ready to change direction, to be willing to make that quick cut even if they find it isn’t necessary.
Just maybe mowing on a diagonal is good for the grass, that other route will get you to church on time, and recycling means the trash can isn’t overflowing. Maybe today is the day you decide to be ready to abandon your view of something long enough to have something wonderful revealed that will make life better than before.