What is Your Smudge?

From where I stand as I do my dishes I can see a green pasture that blooms with yellow weeds. Pecan trees drape the soft fence line and pine trees seem to grow so tall they touch the sky. In the summer the pasture is filled with wild blackberry bushes and bumble bees. Cows occasionally stroll through my looking glass and seem to offer just enough excitement for me to happily get through with my chores. Just the other day, my window to the world had a great big smudge. I have no idea how it got there (4 kids in the house) but I do know that it distracted me to the point of emotional irritation. As I tend to be obsessive compulsive when it comes to the cleanliness of my home, I felt an edginess stirring within that I could not shake.

As a test to the endurance of my mind I decided to leave the smudge. I told myself that it wouldn’t bother me, it wouldn’t keep me from my writing or hold my attention that long. I had complete intention to let it go. I would forego the usual routines of cleaning the environmental chaos from my home. That is a difficult task in and of itself, to just let things go, but I decided that I must use my knowledge of the mind to let this one go as well. After all, it is just a smudge, a harmless mark of dirty hands upon the window of my world. I did after all have the power to decide how I wanted to see it.

Several days later, the smudge still there I started to become restless. When I walked in the room my eyes immediately darted to the smudge. It seemed bigger. When I vacuumed I would think about cleaning the smudge. As I toiled with my dishes, I no longer the noticed what was outside my window, just the great big ugly smudge. As I cooked I noticed the smudge. I would sit down to try and write or read and the smudge would cross my mind. Each time I tried to not think about the smudge, I was thinking about the smudge. This may seem silly, but I was determined, intent in fact on ignoring the smudge. I had to see if I could do it. If I couldn’t ignore a little, well big smudge on my window then how could I ever ignore more prudent things that would eventually manifest themselves into illness or grief. I believe the importance of invoking good thoughts to be able to receive the abundance of well being.

For nights I went to bed babies in my arms and the image of the smudge crept into my mind. I would drive my kids to school and think about how I would ignore the smudge when I got back home. Some days I just stayed out. I woke up several times in the middle of the night for a drink and my mind went immediately to the stained window in my kitchen. It was maddening! I began to feel like a failure as a student in life. I began to feel that I was powerless to control my thoughts. One negative reaction led to another negative thought and the process seemed to continue. I became tired and I became irritated. One day, I could hold it in no longer and talked to a friend about my smudge. She looked at me rather perplexed and quite abruptly said, “so clean it off the window already, do you need some Windex or something?” I was stunned. In disbelief I stood there. I wondered if I could really do that, could I really simply clean it up and be done with the smudge forever? The paper towels and Windex were sitting under the sink, they had been there all along.

That same day, I cleaned the smudge off my window. I began to see the cows again. I noticed that pecans were falling off the trees and that the wind seemed to be blowing the tall grass in swirls. A squirrel was gathering nuts. A deer appeared near the fence and ate the green pasture grass, its little white tail bobbing behind her. The sun sparkled off the grass and little orbs of glowing balls seemed to shoot from the tops of the pine trees. I got my dishes done without notice. My mood changed and my intention shifted to my writing, to my family, to my sleeping, to all the things that I love. I felt really good!

Most of us have a smudge or two on the windows of our life. I realized that not only is it normal to notice them, it is healthy to clean them up before they manifest into mighty dark spots that shield our eyes and heavy our spirits. The intention of the deliberate mind should not be on ignoring or controlling that which bothers us; but rather on the careful attention to how our thoughts are making us feel. My intention to not think about the smudge, led to the smudge to be all I thought about. This is true with most things in life. The smudges may present themselves in different shapes and forms, but it is our attention to them that heightens their capacity to become a part of us. If we can clean it, if we can wipe it away with a simple stroke of the hand then I say we should. Smudge will take on the power we give to it. The sooner it is gone, the sooner we can be mindful of the things in life that bring us closer to the light. The looking glass will seem sharper, clearer and our view will be an optimal extension of soul.

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