Open Eyes

Doctor, my eyes have seen the years
And the slow parade of fears without crying
Now I want to understand
I have done all that I could
To see the evil and the good without hiding
You must help me if you can
Jackson Browne, Doctor My Eyes

I’ve always liked this song, and not just because it’s by one of my favorite singer-songwriters or because of its driving beat but because it is about a man trying to deal with the realities of life with his eyes open.  While I love Satchmo’s rendition of Wonderful World and when I need my spirit lifted, I may put on Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Doctor My Eyes comes closer to who I am.   When people tell me that if I Let Go and Let God, everything will get better, I usually just nod politely unless it’s my turn to share, in which I may express my opinion that life is often difficult, even with God in charge.  It’s earned me the nickname of Bud Dark.

Having Open Eyes can brighten my soul.  The other day, I looked into the yard and there was a hawk in our birdbath, just sitting there.  It’s not the first time but I always get excited, calling anybody that’s home to come and look.  If I’m running errands and the sun is setting just so, I’ll sometimes pull to the side of the road to watch.  Dozens of cars may stream by, one or two honking at me for stopping in a No Parking Zone, and I wonder … can’t anyone else see this?  Such moments are unexpected gifts.  Open Eyes, also known as mindfulness, brings Light to life that most never notice.   But Open Eyes notice the other side of life, the sad and the tragic, sometimes in small moments that others miss, too.

Though we have never made the trip to see it, I have always been fascinated by Yellowstone National Park.  One night a few weeks ago, I watched on national Geographic Special on winter in Yellowstone.  Yellowstone in winter is one of the coldest places on earth, and most of the wildlife, which thrives during the summer, spends the winter on the edge of survival.  The exceptions are the wolf packs, which thrive by feasting on the weakened herds.  The herds undertake epic migrations to places where they can forage for grass under the snow but many don’t survive.  In one scene, a bison that has fallen behind the herd is trapped in the deep snow, too weak to go on.  You can see the resignation in its eyes.  I spent several days with that image haunting me.  The winter in Yellowstone certainly brings a terrible beauty but why would God subject his innocent creations to such a fate?

There is a price for having Open Eyes, and like Jackson Browne, I want to understand.  I can find lots of people online willing to offer me their own means of understanding why life can be so hard.  While I don’t find much solace in the notion that our suffering is the price we’re paying for Adam’s transgressions, a least that notion acknowledges the suffering.   The idea that it’s All Part of God’s Plan seems contrary to the notion of a beneficent God, but I find it preferable to walking around in a Life is Good T-shirt.   And yet, with Open Eyes, I can say that Life is Often Good.  While that won’t make a very salable T-shirt, it’s the truth.  As far as the rest goes, I suspect what I saw in the Yellowstone bison’s eyes was acceptance, not resignation.  Acceptance, I’ve found, is the key to having Open Eyes without spending most of my time as Bud Dark.   But sometimes, I’m him.  That’s life.

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4 Comments on “Open Eyes”

  1. Acceptance is the key.

  2. Rick Gleason Says:

    It’s my belief that God’s plan. like our very existence is eternal in nature. It’s hard. even with mature and Open Eyes, to recognize and understand the ups and downs of our lives without the benefit of a likewise eternal perspective. It will all come, with time.

  3. For the past month now, I’ve been struggling to keep smiling, to see the good in things that are heading my way if/when my daughter and the two grandkids here actually follow through with her current plan, which is that they will move in early summer of 2013 to someplace down in the Harrisburg area. The mere thought of being without these kids around me every day is truly heart-wrenching for me but I have to keep trying to accept the reality of this coming about. Just one of those big “downer” things life brings us, I suppose, isn’t it? But sure do wish it was something else but then again, who knows, something else could be something even worse. One day at a time and this is something I definitely can’t control!

  4. Coming East Says:

    Your perspective matches mine so closely, Bud. It’s important to remember to look for the good things so you don’t miss them because there surely are a lot of sad things out there. Life just is.

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