The lychees didn’t fruit much this year. In fact, barely at all. I thought maybe it was something I said? Karma, you know.
Two years ago, our family was excited to see the tiny new buds of incredibly young lychees like a slow-breaking wave of green on the big venerable tree in our backyard.
Of course, not all of the tiny, incredibly young buds would make it to full lychee-dom.
But I hadn’t expected so many not to make it.
I remember getting out the rake and gathering all the tiny, incredibly young casualties of nature.
In time, we would see the first tinges of red in the young lychees, like an adolescent blushing at an awkward remark, spreading through the branches and scraggly canopies of leaves in the venerable tree.
We would hear remarks from the folks who come to meditate on Thursdays at our home – “any day now” as they would glance at the tree in the last rays of the Manoa evening sky, some relishing the sight in their post-meditative glow.
Then came the days when our family would pick so many lychees we could not possibly eat them all, even after giving some away, and having the Thursday meditation crowd savor them, post-meditatively.
So we peeled and froze them for the smoothies and ice cream toppings of the future.
All the while I kept raking up the ones that didn’t make it, landing on the ground under the venerable tree after being half eaten by birds, or wrenched from their homes by the occasional gusts of Manoa Valley wind, breaking open when they reached the ground, their white flesh exposed like glistening bandages under their red, slightly spiny skins.
But that was then, and now, it’s hardly worth raking lychees, there are so few.
I think about impermanence, and all the different projects I have going on; many won’t last past the conceptual stages.
So much is tied up in concepts – wrestling with concepts.
I drop the lychee contemplation. I drop contemplating my life, and all that’s left undone, like so many unborn lychees.
What if I dropped my most precious project of all?
What if I dropped my meditation project?
We are naturally really complicated beings, yeah?
We tend to taking a simple moment of experience—a sensory experience, a thought, or a feeling—and spinning a web of concepts around it.
It’s not that simple to observe a thought without getting involved in its orbit. We tend to follow, resist, or judge our thoughts.
Before you know it, what began as the thought “Where are they lychees this year?” becomes a swirling mass of intertwining concepts and ideas along with eddies and tide pools of emotion and reactivity.
Take our ideas about meditation. We can make it so complicated to just be aware of a breath!
Rather, we easily get sucked into a vortex of thinking about the practice, comparing and contrasting meditation practices, resisting doing it, and, of course, judging our practice against a perceived ideal.
What are we doing? The short answer is that we are not doing—we are being. The initial task of meditation is to find a home in the present moment and let go of holding on to anything whatsoever.
We simply let go of everything else — intentions, schemes, expectations, projects, and grasping.
Lisa Dale Miller, Ph.D., in a recent talk, commented:
When we practice letting go again and again, a spacious quality of mind that is naturally open and free emerges from the background of our consciousness into the foreground of our experience. If we can stay with the freshness of what is unfolding, aspects of our being conditioned by grasping and reactivity are gradually able to release.
Can we stay in the freshness of now, even when we contemplate all that hasn’t even happened yet, like so many unborn lychees?
Katina and I are here to support your meditation practice in any way we can, just contact us through the Contact Page on this site. Or if you live in Honolulu, or ever visit, feel free to drop by our free, weekly meditation evenings.