The Taste of Honey

 

My daughter didn’t get her first taste of sweets until she was almost a year old.  My wife and I knew that once she tasted sweet it would change her relationship to food, so we figured that our daughter couldn’t crave what she didn’t know about.  When the day came, we decided that to start her out with a small spoonful of honey.  She had seen us put a little honey into our tea before, but until this day it didn’t register in her awareness what she was missing. When the spoon touched her mouth, her eyes widened as if she had discovered some great secret:  This is the magic of experience.  Someone can tell you about something; you can read and study about an idea, but you don’t really understand something until you personally experience it.

I’ve heard it said that if someone writes the word “honey” on a piece of paper and you try to eat the word, you will not get to enjoy the sweetness.  This is true of everything that we study with our minds.  We can read the words, we can try to understand them as a concept, but until we find ourselves in the middle of something, we really have no idea what it feels like.  It is like someone who has never been next to the ocean going to the beach for the first time.  Maybe they have read about the ocean, or seen it on television, but nothing can truly teach them the essence of the ocean except direct experience.  They won’t know the ocean until they hear the crash of the waves, smell the distinct blend of salt and seaweed, or get moved around by the waves..  They won’t understand until they feel the sand and salt stick to their skin. 

So often we think that we know something because we have studied it, or someone has explained it to us.  But how can we know unless we have been immersed in it ourselves.  One of the greatest gifts of this time of uncertainty is the opportunity to slow down enough to notice things, to experience things.  When we are in “normal” times, most of us are moving so quickly from one thing to another that we give ourselves little opportunity to truly taste the sweetness of our lives.  We don’t give ourselves permission to stop and smell the roses, or to notice the sharpness of the thorns.  As this period of social isolation has dragged on, I have been amazed to notice how often I think that I should be doing more, learning more, accomplishing more.  Though I can write lists and cross things off of them one by one, I am also being encouraged to taste each moment, even the ones that aren’t on a list. Having more time and space offers us greater opportunity to learn to be more present in each moment.  I still have my list of things to do, but without the same urgency in my schedule, I get to notice how often my agenda is simply serving as a distraction.  I get uncomfortable if I slow down enough to hear the chatter in my mind.  I am constantly looking for a way out of the suffering that is born from trying to always be in control of my life.  If I am on mission to check things off my list, I often miss the swirl in the clouds or the hummingbird that says hello through my window.  The only way to truly and authentically “taste” something is to be with it in the moment completely.  It requires that we give the moment our full attention. 

Before the pandemic we all had so many reasons why we had to hurry off to be somewhere else that we didn’t notice the mysterious magic of being right where we are.  Though many of use are still very busy worrying about what is next, caring for our families,  or trying to stay afloat financially, in many ways we can find more time to be curious about what is right with us here in the moment.  Never in my life have I been forced in this way to sit in each moment.  There is nowhere else to go, less to get done.  So I can sit and watch with all of my awareness how life is unfolding in the here and now.  This is same place that life is always unfolding, the only place that life is truly alive.  The future that we are usually positioning for, or the past that we are often trying to untangle or integrate are both just concepts in our mind.  They are not alive like the present moment.  You can remember something from yesterday, or imagine it in a tomorrow, but it isn’t that wide eyed discovery of a secret that can only happen in this very moment.  

Like my daughter who didn’t notice the honey that we were putting in our tea until she tasted it herself, we are being encouraged to taste the honey ourselves and to understand its sweetness.  We are being beckoned to put down the word scribbled on a piece of paper and enjoy the spoonful of golden sweetness that is this moment.  

Safety at Middleway during the Pandemic

 

The State of Oregon, including the Oregon Medical Board, and Middleway Medicine have decided that it is appropriate to offer acupuncture and our other usual services in our clinic as long as extra safety precautions are taken.  In addition to our usual sanitation measures, precautions we are taking include:

Don’t come if you have cold symptoms

    1. Cough
    2. Had a fever in the last week
    3. Exposed to someone with Covid -19
  1. Patients wait outside in parking lot for provider to get them(waiting room closed)
  2. Patients wear a mask entire time in the clinic and during treatment. Except when face down(no mask, no entry)
  3. Provider takes your temperature outside of building
  4. Bathroom is closed except for urgent situations
  5. Patients clean with hand sanitizer after walking inside of clinic
  6. Patient goes directly into the room
  7. Patient leaves all possessions in pocket/or purse
  8.  Your provider will wear a mask and be cleaning all touched surfaces with 70% Alcohol between all patients.

Fog Lights

 
by Clark Zimmerman, LAc.
 
The other day while I was driving my car, I began to hear a rattle that I hadn’t heard before.  Since my car is 15 years old, I had gotten used to new rattles showing up.  My usual remedy is to find the rattle and push on it, or give it a knock with my hand.  Sometimes this works, other times I just have to find a way to let it be.  This time it seemed to be coming from the dial that turns the headlights on.  I pushed on the dial and then gave it firmer tap, but the rattle persisted.  Then I tried pulling on the dial and to my surprise, not only did the rattle stop, but it turned on the fog lights that are set underneath the main headlights.  I’m a little embarrassed to say, I never knew that this is how these lights turned on.  I assumed that they were on as running lights when the car was on, but hadn’t noticed in my 15 years that they had their own control on the dial.  While regular lights are useful for looking further down the road, fog lights are more useful in a fog.  When a brighter and longer reaching light is reflected in the fog and can actually make it harder to see.  I think that things tend to happen for a reason, and if we are paying attention, we are constantly given information that is relevant for each moment.  So it wasn’t lost on me, in this time where the future is so foggy, that I finally discovered my fog lights.

Most of us strain ourselves to try to look into the future.  We believe that if we can just see what is coming our way, we can better prepare and avoid some of the suffering that may be in store.  While there is some benefit to looking ahead and preparing as best we can, the future is a mystery.  It is enshrouded in a sort of fog that is always going to be beyond our ability to predict or understand.  We can drive ourselves crazy going over all of the possible scenarios in an attempt to feel more in control, to feel safer.  But it is truly a fools errand to try to predict the future:  As the saying goes “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”  This is especially noticeable in times of great uncertainty. 

 No one knows what is coming, we are all improvising. 

It is times like this when we can take some inspiration from fog lights.  

Rather than focusing the light far ahead towards the horizon, we bring the light closer to where we are.  If we are trying to look too far into the future, it is like shining your high beams into the fog…it won’t help you see more clearly.  In fact will probably serve to make it harder to see.  

When you turn off the high beams and rely on fog lights, you are focusing your light closer to where you are:  You are shining it on the here and now.  You could say that fog lights are more for the moment at hand, rather than what is further ahead.  Not only does this allow you to be more in the moment and to better address the most pressing needs, you also lessen the likelihood of over-illuminating the the foggy terrain ahead and blinding yourself in the process.  

So how does this translate to times like these?  I have to keep reminding myself to stay with the moment.  Like most people in the world, I am noticing waves of fear, confusion and grief.  When I check in with myself I am noticing that typically these emotions are at their strongest when I am straying too far into the future.  When I pull myself back into the moment I notice that these challenges are joined by a sense of curiosity and hope.  I begin to wonder what the silver lining of this great upheaval will be.  Typically, great moments of evolution and growth are born from moments of great challenge and confusion.  These moments of hope and trust come more readily when I am focusing the light of awareness on the things that are close to me.  In these moments I notice the kindness of the people around, though I know that they too are struggling.  I see the small miracles and acts of courage that arise when we are pushed beyond the comfort of the familiar.  I see the love and the commitment that grows stronger with each new challenge.  I am also asked to explore deeper parts of myself that I haven’t had as much reason to explore until now.  

It is still very foggy ahead, and if I try to look too far down the road, I find myself  disoriented.  If I bring my gaze back to the light that is right near me, to the depths of myself, I find courage I didn’t know existed.  I find love and hope and appreciation for the simple ways in which life still goes on.  I can see greater detail in the path that I am traveling.  I may have to go a little slower, I may not arrive to the place that I originally thought I was heading to, but I arrive into the moment.  This is place where faith lives.  This is the place where the truth resides.  This is the place that the fog lights illuminate.  

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