A Million Different Things: Noon, Meditation #1

This article begins the middle section of my book, A Million Different Things: Meditations of The World’s Happiest Man, with thoughts on Wayne Dyer’s advice to “Be open to everything.” A full index to every entry in this free serialization can be found at: Gift Of A Million Different Things.

David Stone, Writer

“Be open to everything.”

Wayne Dyer’s intensity in offering this advice, as if it struck him as the most important insight he could pass along, swept through me like a gust of passionate wind. How else was it possible to ever really know? An honest man had to look squarely, leaving all preconceived notions behind, at what life was scattering in front of his eyes. I knew I had to change the way I lived.

My ideas about reality had been shaken after learning some quantum physics, then reading Gary Zukov and Eckhart Tolle. Two things kept rattling my cage, to resurrect an apt expression from my childhood.
First was the excitement that came with gathering realizations about what was happening beneath the surfaces.

Insights arrived in tingling rushes. My second motivation was more abstract. I believed the only alternative to my changing was sticking with the cycle of highs and lows that had been wearing me down for decades. Stay on my personal treadmill, however original it might be, and I stood little chance of learning the secrets that could open up the other reality, the one no one else seemed interested in. It was bubbling along without me. I sensed it was nearby, and having given up on religious teachings as paths to knowing, I needed something to fill in the gaps. Those gaps threatened to become holes into emptiness.

Was I still being fired up by the drives I’d always felt? Yes, I was, even if they were becoming to feel less direct. I still wanted to piece out the puzzles of reality that had preoccupied me since adolescence and to write stories informed by insights. Yet, I was committing next to nothing to paper. Novels were started, stuttering and aborting inside my head.

My wife and I had richer lives than either of us imagined as children. Our dining room window looked out across the East River to Manhattan, and we sipped wine over dinner and talked about our good luck.

We’d become securely settled in the city where both of us wanted most to live. Along with jobs we liked, we were able to afford memberships in multiple art museums, have the leisure for long walks along the many trails in Central Park and the chance to see plays and musicals whenever a review or ad caught our attention. We weren’t impractical. My wife still expertly tracked down bargains and discounts. We began to learn to cook as our zest for life brought out a desire for improved health and, especially, increased stamina. We found new friends, and since we lived in an international city, many for the first time were not American. My friends came from places like Senegal, Palestine and Iran while my wife’s were more likely to reflect her affinities for the people of Brazil and Italy. We traveled whenever we needed a break from routine, visiting our own country as well as Europe.

Few days passed without something to be happy about. For me, sometimes, they were pleasures as small and unexpected as the ornate lobby of an historic building or being surprised by the season’s first snow as I exited a subway. Even at the end of days when roofs had caved in, I’d find George, our loving, elegant and wise cat waiting at the elevator, crying with joy and running to greet me. Someday, maybe, I’ll write a whole book about the endless joys of a thirty plus year marriage to an engaging and loving partner. My problem, though, was never a lack of reasons to be happy. What troubled me were the shallows between these islands, the flowing disconnections. Moments are, after all, moments, isolated by definition. We can be tickled, but after the laughter subsides, silence returns. As I approached and passed my fiftieth birthday, the shallows became, increasingly, pools of darkness I could not ignore.

Valentine’s Day, Cat Art, Fine Art Photography: Deborah Julian Photography

Up stepped the always inspiring Wayne Dyer, and I began to see things that were previously invisible, worlds of experience I hadn’t explored. In my narrow focus, I’d been missing universes others had already marched through and taken the time to write about. I read the accounts like metaphysical travel guides.

“Be open to everything” continued to resonate as I coaxed myself to keep looking when exposed to views learned inhibitions had prepared me to ignore. Few experiences and virtually no ideas are ever really dangerous, so why not stick at least a toe in that fizzy broth? Unexplored lakes and jungles full of surprising, energizing experience awaited. All I had to lose were my prejudices and ignorance.

So much came to me quickly, it’s hard to put my finger on the first big thing I learned from following Dr. Dyer’s advice. Let’s assume it was the art of appreciation. The pleasures of a deliberate effort to enjoy the world forced me to scratch my head and wonder why I hadn’t done it before. It wasn’t as if “stop and smell the roses” was a cliche I hadn’t heard a thousand times. I began to see what I’d been missing–what I’d call “the rest of it.”

A great example is the most beautiful patch of blue sky in the universe. Going to work, I took a ten minute walk along the river. We all love blue skies, and New York has many days of them. Now, I took in not just that big swath of blue, sometimes accented by clouds, but I saw patches that stood out in exceptional ways. It might be a field surrounded by puffy clouds or one barely visible through haze. Across the river, an architectural ornament crowning a hospital building opened a small square to the sky. There was something about how the blue was framed that accented it differently than the rest. It struck a very deep chord. Absorbing it on all those fair weather days set a tone of appreciation that lasted for hours.