Noticing hidden layers of reality

The Costa Rican sun back-lights a lily.

Even though I have had a motorcycle license for over a year, I’m still experiencing my scooter riding in a new way, every time. I ride for fun, not as my primary mode of transportation, so nothing has become second nature to me yet as a rider. Feeling exposed out there on the scooter is an intense exercise in paying attention: trying not to get killed really is a kind of spiritual practice.

When I ride, I notice every single smell: there are lovely woodsy or restaurant smells (is there anything nicer than the smell of garlic or barbeque smoke in the outdoors?) alternating with things like garbage and road kill, not so nice.

Even the slightest temperature change is noticeable on the scooter: one travels at 40 mph through alternating curtains of heat and coolness. If I were in the car–even with the windows down–I wouldn’t have this strange experience of shifting reality.

It occurs to me that–in fact–there are all kinds of layers to reality that we NEVER see, probably because we just aren’t paying attention. We travel all the time without awareness over and through layers of history and memory, without even registering anything beyond our own senses.

My practice these days is to pay more attention and cultivate my sense of wonder. I am practicing: what are those birds I hear? Where does this river go? What are the words to this new song? Oh, look at the light through that sprinkler. And one of my favorites is from the Book of Common Prayer: Thank you, God, for the gift of water. I am practicing waking up to other realities, raising my gaze above the path immediately before me.

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