One evening, when I was in my highly dramatic 20’s trying to explain my latest upset to an introverted housemate, he took me by the arm and walked me over to the window. He gestured to the sky and said simply,
“Look at the sky. Go wide.“
I use this same trick in these turbulent days when I read the paper or listen to NPR and find myself tightening, pulling in and putting up walls.
“Go wide,” I tell myself. “Go wide.”
It isn’t always the sky, though that often works on these sunny, summer-Portland days. Sometimes it is reaching for a sense of the larger arc of time, the big picture, the continual ebb and flow of life.
Or I think of the next generation. And the next. Attending my beloved niece’s, beyond-wonderful wedding, I got to experience a passel of bright and vivacious 30-somethings. They made me smile for our future.
I smile, soften and go wide as I watch my nephew teaching his three-year-old daugter to be kind to her young sister, to marvel at the blueberries, to rescue a dying caterpillar from the porch.
The Dahli Lama provided me with an almost fool-proof method of opening—widening. He wrote in The Book of Joy of his treck out of his beloved Tibet. What helped him was to think of all the other refugies in the world who were outside their homelands. He says, “This was not a denial of pain and suffering but a shift in perspective—from oneself and towards others, from anguish to compassion—seeing that others are suffering as well.”
It is always a choice. Choosing to let my mind go wide softens me so that I can relax into a sense of a world where hope reigns. In my wide vision generosity trumps greed and compassion triumphs over fear, always.