By Steve Clayton
Summer has finally settled into the Maritimes, and there is much rejoicing! We have had a couple of warm, sunny days in a row, a record for this year, and a lot of us are trying to get caught up with our gardening. I have been dividing and transplanting hostas, an amazingly hearty plant. There were two varieties of hostas when we moved into our home. From those two humble plants we now have a grand total of 22 hostas around our property. As I was transplanting the last of them two days ago, I happened to remark that hostas had the ability to be right at home where ever they were placed. Tux, my six year old Corgi who was nearby, gave me an “Are you talking to me?” look. He then came over for the obligatory scratch behind the ears and settled down next to me. My thoughts drifted back to the subdivision where I grew up. I had more than once overheard an ‘older’ neighbour talking to him nor herself. Being a kid who thought he knew it all, I wrote those people off as being not quite right in the head. Glancing at the hostas and Tuxie I added aloud, “I guess I’m joining those ranks sooner than I had expected”. Receiving no reply, I suddenly realized I could say whatever I wanted without the fear of being judged by any of my present companions. I became very still. Only moments before when thinking of the hostas’ ability to grow anywhere, I had recalled this adage: ‘Only for those who are masters of themselves is there no noise or silence, no flourishing or withering, nowhere that is a spontaneously comfortable heaven’. The hostas are the embodiment of those words. During my mid to late twenties I had tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to make that my mantra, blaming my failure on my inability to master my mind with the thousands of (unrelated) thoughts that flowed freely through it every single day. In my moment of silence I realized it was not the thoughts in my mind I had to master, but rather the judgments. My head was full of judgments – some made by others, some made by me – but all related to me in one form or another.
This past weekend I had had a talk with a young man about the Toltec’s Four Agreements. The first states: ‘One must be impeccable with one’s word’. As I explained to him, the first agreement was more than what we said to others; it was also what we said about ourselves and, just as importantly, what we said internally to ourselves, for in our thoughts we are often harder on ourselves than others are. We live in fear of these negative judgments and that makes us unhappy. If we overcome these negative judgments, we overcome our distress and unhappiness. Kneeling in silence before the hostas and Tux, I knew only I could silence the judgments in my head. This was my responsibility. I made a vow to myself to replace each self-judgement with a positive loving affirmation about myself. It is my belief and hope that when I have quieted the judgments in my head, I will have found my spontaneously comfortable heaven and, in a moment of silence, I will give thanks.