Sitting on a beach in Harwich Port, Massachusetts, on an early July day, I took a moment to be mindful of the surroundings: the sounds, the warmth, the smell of the ocean breeze, and the gentle touch of my girlfriend’s hand on mine. I sat with my eyes closed for twenty minutes or so, putting my attention to writing an essay. When I opened my eyes to see two little girls playing in the sand and what I witnessed was harmony in being, in the most innocent way right before my eyes.
One little girl was running her hands through the wispy white sand and the other was flipping sand into the air with her feet. They were focused with full and lighthearted attention on their play with the sand, occasionally glancing at each other with delighted smiles. They were enthralled with the nature of the sand and its movement. As I watched the interaction between them, I knew I was watching two children in harmony with their environment and each other.
Not far away, a couple was struggling to pull a cart filled with chairs, a blanket, towels, a cooler, and an umbrella through the sand. Their struggle continued as they tried to set up the umbrella and spread out the blanket, which the breeze kept blowing over. The sand became their enemy as they moved furiously about to keep the blanket weighted down with the cooler and bags trying at the same time to wipe away with their hands any grain of sand from on top the blanket. Inevitably kids ran by, kicking up sand, and the couple winced each time.
These two scenes were in such contrast to each other, yet they both occurred in the same place, with the same surroundings and the same nature. Both the girls and the couple were sharing the same beach, yet their experiences could not have been more different. These little girls harmonized with the nature of the beach, even sharing in each other’s experiences, while the couple fought against their surroundings and struggled with the nature of the beach. There is nothing complicated about a beach with the ocean tide coming and going, yet two very different experiences of the same beach can manifest simply because one is harmonizing with it and the other is struggling against it.
We fight so much against life, but if we were able instead, to harmonize with the nature of life, the struggle would be gone. Then, we could live as the girls did on the beach, enthralled in its nature and sharing in the delight of the experience.
Most enjoy going to the beach, but some would rather be in the mountains, and maybe others would be happy in the center of a big city. Wherever you are, how you are, does not have to change. If you are joyful on a beach because you like it, and dreadful in a city center because you hate it, the difference is happening in you. You are the one who chooses how you are, no matter where you are. There is no need to be different in a city or on a beach. If you hate the city, it is because you are not harmonizing with life—you are letting the external environment manipulate your inner harmony causing inner discordance. Any time we let the external—be it a place, a person, or a group—affect us, we will become discordant within, and as a result discordant with life.
A guitar will go out of tune while you’re playing it, and even more quickly if it sits unused. This is because the environment and the guitar have no permanent nature. Nothing does. Everything changes. We must pay attention to the discordance of the guitar, so we can keep it tuned and harmonious. We have to pay attention to ourselves as well to keep this instrument of life in tune and harmonious. It won’t do it without your attention. It will be influenced by the environment and by its own changing nature.
No two guitars will sound exactly alike, and each one has a unique sound that, when in harmony with itself, is a beautiful instrument. The human instrument of life too, is beautiful when it is harmonized with itself. It has a unique vibration, a unique quality.
To be in harmony with yourself is to play the perfect note that only you can play. No one else can play this note, and this note will never exist again in all of creation, so play it for all to hear. To create this perfect note of yourself, you need only to be yourself. Tune inward and the song of life within will enliven you.
As the wonderful poet Edward E. Cummings once wrote, “To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”
Ed Williamson © 2015