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A Nod to the Man...

I was most upset to hear of Thich Nhat Hanh’s passing last week. It has taken me a few days to absorb and feel the loss. He was such a gentle soul with such a burning light. While I never met the man, I have read a great number of his books and so appreciated his perspective on connection, anger, love and grief. He helped me many times re-orient myself with myself. Find peace on the turbulent waves of my mind. He helped me live a better life. And I am most grateful to him, for him and trust that he is now walking peacefully through a field, noticing, experiencing, loving, smiling. That is how I will remember him.

One of my most favorite things he ever said was:

“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”

Such a gentle reminder that something as basic and simple as a smile can do so much good in the world. A kind word, a smile shared can and does make a huge difference in the world and every day life. I forget that sometimes and it seems to me that we need to remember this now more than ever. People are not smiling at each other. People are barely looking at each other. I hike the trails and while I say hello to everyone who passes me, I am somewhat stunned by how much my friendly offering is dismissed or wholly rejected by others. It feels like we are siloed even as we roam the wild free and unconfined.

I think that was his message. Love. Be present. Give. Even something as basic as a smile changes not only the world about you but the world inside you.

I am sad that he is gone, that we only have the words and messages he left us, that there will be no more new things from the Zen master. But then again, I kind of believe that he did all that he was supposed to do in his time with us and now he is somewhere else he is needed. That brings me comfort...somehow.

I am beginning to see death not as an ending but a beginning of something new that I cannot fathom. I do not have the ability to think beyond the living life. But perhaps life is preparing me for that. Experiencing loss and sadness and acceptance as it seems we lose more and more people every day. I know that people have always died, but it feels like now it is every day that we are losing some loving soul that made this world a better place.

“I promise myself that I will enjoy every minute of the day that is given me to live”

What a beautiful intention. What an amazing gift to give yourself. What an aspiration!

So I endeavor to follow his example. To seek to find a way to to enjoy every minute I am here, every minute I get to live this most amazing, beautiful life. That I am here, present, loving, smiling and doing my best to spread love and kindness wherever I may go. To be here now and love to the best of my ability. Seems like a pretty good use of my life. And I have a great example if I ever lose my way. I can come back to his teachings, his stories, his life as a bright light, never dimmed, and begin again to be here now. Love now. Live now. Smiling as much as I can.

Thank you, I am better because of you. My life is better because of you. And may I now turn those things changed inside me to assist in the betterment of those about me. Be it through a smile, a gesture, a helping hand. I can make this world more beautiful, so I will.

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