In mid-October, two people I feel fortunate to call my dear friends welcomed a baby. A few days ago, I accompanied them for a walk with the little one to a cafe near their home. As we laughed and chatted over coffee, a man sitting at the table next to us politely asked a favour.
In his hands was an unfinished string of wooden beads. He told us that a work colleague of his had been diagnosed with Stage-3 cancer, and he felt a need to make a mala for her. However, instead of completing it himself, he felt it more meaningful to have each bead strung on by people who could offer good energy and thoughts. “Could you each string a bead?” he asked. We all nodded yes. I’d like to think that he approached us because the energy emanating from our table was that of levity and brightness.
I carefully strung on one bead then watched the new parents each do the same, with well-wishes at the forefront of our minds for someone we will never meet, while the baby rested quietly. It was a serene and poignant moment.
Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ
– mantra, spoken aloud or silently, meant to invoke benevolent attention and the blessings of Chenrezig, the enlightened embodiment of compassion
It’s a stirring notion, the idea of energy transferring in these small yet powerful ways. That act of purpose and focus could be applied to anything we do in life. Perhaps, I think to myself, if I try to approach the task with a sense of open optimism rather than expected defeat, it could make all the difference. How wonderful if, when we sit down to write, we could always zero-in like that?
Of course, I don’t expect to be able to stay in that frame of mind all of the time (we can’t all be as supposedly-centred and constant as the child Buddha George Saunders once encountered in Nepal) but, like the intentions projected into those tiny wooden beads, it’s possible to achieve these focused and consequential moments every now and then.
Consider it prayer, or meditation, or deliberation, or whatever sense best suits you. Form a mental “bead” and use that dedicated energy to do or create something great.
Until next time, happy and productive thoughts to you all!