Thursday, July 2, 2015

Simple not Easy

While I was sitting one morning this week past, a mom fox ran along the far side of our South fence carrying a rabbit in her mouth perhaps to her den to feed her offspring.

A family of six Black headed Grosbeaks are frequenting our bird feeders each morning. Titmice, Nuthatches, Mockingbirds, Gold Finches and, of course, the rowdy Blue Jays all get a "bite to eat" and sip of water. Chickadees are obviously nesting here at MuRefuge somewhere not yet identified or at the very least nearby. The seasonal changing of the bird population here at MuRefuge reminds its human BEing inhabitants of the natural rhythm called wu wei in the Taoist tradition. Literally wu wei means non action or non doing. A practicing Taoist describes this term: "cultivation of a state of being in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world. . . . it is a kind of 'going with the flow' that is characterized by great ease and awake-ness, in which without even trying, we're able to respond perfectly to whatever situation arises."

Each day situations present themselves during our day offering us an opportunity to awaken fully and BE with wu wei, which is simple not easy.  Each of us can chose to BE awake, using the opportunity or not. I am reminded of the process by an adage from my high school band instructor: "practice makes perfect only if you practice perfectly." Now for this One who often perseverates upon "perfection" the meaning takes on a whole different perspective when One considers Tao Perfection, aka wu wei, rather than mere human perfection.

The Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly and the Monarch butterfly practice Tao Perfection each time one of these butterflies lays her eggs. Each choses the particular plant species which will nourish and protect the emerging caterpillar which evolves into a beautiful winged creature, the butterfly. This is the simple and perfect practice of species survival. It is not easy, this process from egg to caterpillar to butterfly. Nor is it easy for these BEings to negotiate all the obstacles presented to them (such as Roundup which is the human easy approach to ridding their property of weeds).

Pipevine caterpillars of various ages munching away at the Californina Pipevine's leaves.
A tiny Monarch caterpillar gobbling up a local milkweed leaf.
Rejoice! There are many holes in the milkweed leaves.
Unfortunately the Monarch caterpillars are not as numerous as the Pipevine caterpillars.
Simple not easy. I am a baseball fan, to be more exact, an Oakland Athletics'  baseball fan. Simple not easy adjusting to a low payroll team that trades their prime players because they cannot pay them what the high payroll teams will pay them. This is the natural cycle of the Oakland A's: members of the team in their prime leave every few seasons. This season has been instructive to me watching these young baseball players honing their craft. Practice makes perfect only if you practice perfectly. The young shortstop now playing for the A's is hard working; everyone who has know this young man since boyhood agrees. He shows up early and stays late learning and practicing. Oops, practicing but not perfect practicing until the stellar infield coach was hired after the season started. My oh my, how evident the perfect practice of going with the flow is when one watches this shortstop's footwork and movements on the infield during a baseball game now as compared to the beginning of this baseball season. Yes, he still makes errors. However, the errors are not from imperfect practice but rather from honing his craft and establishing new body memories of how to play shortstop. Simple not easy.

Another reminder for me of simple not easy: our going on nine years old yellow billed female fawn and white duck has a tumor growing at the junction of her right wing. She is evidence that that life of a duck begins with birth or in her case hatching and flows unimpeded towards death. 
The morning routine of the four oldest female Indian Runner ducks heading for their pond, aka old bathtub.
The top duck in the picture is the female with the tumor beneath her right wing.

Here she is beginning her day after leaving the her deluxe duckhouse one recent morning past.
She stretches out and flaps her wings, even though the right one no longer flaps as it once did.
She is the one on the far right beneath the flowering currant bush.
Fresh green lettuce for breakfast is enjoyed by all.
On the left is the duckhouse where trays with the organic soy free laying pellets
will soon be set for this morning ravenous flock.

She is okay with her process; even appearing content BEing with wu wei. She clearly enjoys her flock, MuRefuge, and us "kind" humans who provide her a safe environment in which she is living her life. I realize I want to make her process easy. Surely there is something I can do to make it easy. Then I am reminded how our doing something was for our dog, Rose. (*click and you'll have a link to Rose's story on this blog) Her leg was amputated for bone cancer. Of course, Rose's short time with us was a simple lesson in not easy. 

The natural process of BEing in physical form has a simple flow. Doing is easy and can provide one with a sense of "taking care of a situation" and keeps one busy with a flurry of activity providing an illusion of importance. Simple, on the other hand, takes "practicing Perfectly" this ageless Tao, "Perfect Knowing" that when a spirit, aka soul, inhabits a physical form the natural flow is birth or beginning, a middle, and an end or death. This marvelous creature, the old yellow billed female fawn and white duck, is reminding me of the temporariness of physical form, aka body, and how simple it is to BE with this natural process.

As we flow in the Taoist wu wei, may we


  1. An email from Palm Springs: "Nice thoughts, Cathie.
    I didnt realize ducks could live 9 yrs. Im sure your babies endure less stress than ducks in the wild. Like living at a spa!!"

  2. Your gals live in a ducky paradise! It's great to see your elder duck leading the way. "Punky wing? Bah! I'm a RUNNER duck." Thanks for another thoughtful post - Kathy

  3. Another email this time from Rolston, Georgia: "Hi Cathie, Thanks for the update on your lovely wise duck. She is blessed to be with you. Letting her BE. What a gift. Lots of love, Sandy"