There is a Whole Foods location in Manhattan that I have adopted. I go there to work several times a week. I basically have a breakfast or lunch there, & after the meal I pull out my laptop & get to work. Having a communal buzz around me while I work keeps me energized & focused. Plus, on every day that I work there, I have a least one person coming to meet me. Everyone needs support in getting things done & staying on purpose. Rubbing elbows & staying connected keeps people inspired.
For several months I have seen a bird in the Whole Foods cafeteria. I am usually pleased to catch a glimpse of it. Just seeing it for a few seconds brings me closer to nature & gives me an indescribable feeling of lightness. But on this day, I actually spent a bit of time observing it & watching it attentively. I watched it for 20 minutes, & during this time, all it did was attempt to fly through the various windowpanes — ramming into one after the other. These are large floor-to-ceiling windows in a huge loft space. So this little bird could be easily 10 feet above every one’s heads trying to escape for hours everyday, without anyone taking notice.
I spoke to a friend about this little bird & my concern for it. I told him that I would speak to the Whole Foods manager & do what I could to help it return to nature safely. I noticed how affected I was by this bird being trapped, & how desperately I wanted it to be free. Then I had to look at myself: Am I just as stuck as this bird? Where in my life do I keep hitting my head against the wall? Where is it that I feel trapped? What habits do I have that I can’t seem to break? How have I ignored my own self-entrapment because I have been too busy to notice?
I pondered these questions as I looked around at the jam-packed cafeteria. Are the crowds at Whole Foods just as trapped as this bird? Hitting their heads against some sort of barrier to their own freedom? Yet they don’t even know it? As I looked around, people were dressed similar. Most of them were office workers or students, eating lunch while monitoring the clock. Almost everyone appeared to be on autopilot.
“In what way are you trapped?” It’s an interesting question. And it got me to think about my life. To think about it with the same attentiveness I had, as I closely observed the bird in its environment.
We are so distracted in this culture. Everything is largely centered around school (to find work), or work (to earn money), or entertainment (to escape monotony). To me all of them are a distraction. A very clever & carefully orchestrated distraction. It takes a lot of awareness to be able to see though all the busyness. To see through the game. To see through the absurdity. It also takes quite a bit of courage to face up to it. But it takes even more courage, much more, to go beyond it. That kind of courage is more like the French word: coeur. It is the same as cor in Latin. It means heart, which is the root of the word courage.
If we want to go beyond the false & illusory reality around us, that we have all irresponsibly co-created & entrapped ourselves with — it takes tremendous heart. It also takes constant awareness and commitment to live up to a higher truth. I think this awareness is the first step. After this first step, we must bravely walk forward & not look back. Fearlessly walk into the unknown & trust where it leads us. I think it’s wiser to trust one’s intuition, & to allow follow one’s feet — allowing their greater awareness to guide them — than to blindly follow the masses.
It is always good to check-in with ourselves. To turn our concerns or questions back on ourselves, examining how we could be more aware or responsible. It’s very easy to fall into comfortable patterns, and then wonder why we have stationary complaints that never fully leave us. We are the only ones that can set ourselves free. But, in order to have the courage to make the necessary changes, we must first have the heart.