This is it! The cold, grey, busy road of happiness!

This morning I received some Whatsapp photos from a friend, photos of the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. Blue sea, palm-fringed beach, then an infinity pool with a beautiful red sunset behind. Paradise!

I held my phone up to the window and sent him back a photo of a cold misty, Madrid morning and said ‘You win!’ Then I laughed to myself because I saw there was a single palm tree in my Madrid photo too! And the other leafless trees looked wonderful in the mist.

We both win I thought!

Look at these trees, below, from an evening walk in the park last night, so beautiful! Who needs more!

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I love the Zen teaching that says simply, ‘This is it!’ … don’t look further than what’s in front of you in this moment for everything you need! This is it! Nothing to search for, nothing missing, no enlightenment necessary, you are already there!

The day before yesterday I was walking down a busy road in a different corner of the city. It was a grey, freezing day, and I thought to myself, ‘I wish I was at home!’… until I remembered, ‘there you go again, wishing you were somewhere else! Dissatisfaction again!’ And I smiled and thought, ‘This is it!’

And that cold, grey, busy road became a wonderful place to be! Outside, seeing the world, just as good as sitting at home by the fire!

The Richest Person on Earth

Below is a poem I come back to again and again. I can be a real complainer at times. I can walk around in a daze lost in circular thoughts. I can be a real glass-half-empty person all along thinking I was always looking at an overflowing cup!

But I can see the incredible beauty in life, I can realise that I have all the conditions for happiness I could ever dream of! I can walk outside and be overwhelmed by the winter branches etched on the empty sky and not need a single thing more in that moment!

There is a bit of both. How wonderful it would be to shake off the complainer, the dazed thinker, the one who lives in lack instead of abundance. How wonderful it would be to live in happiness and wonder all the time!

I think it’s possible. This poem is about all that, it’s as if someone had given me the list of instructions that makes everything completely clear…

Our True Heritage, by Thich Nhat Hanh

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.
I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.
Each moment you are alive is a gem,
Shining through and containing earth and sky,
water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently
for the miracles to be displayed.
Suddenly you hear the birds singing,
the pines chanting,
see the flowers blooming,
the blue sky,
the white clouds,
the smile and the marvellous look
of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth,
who have been going around begging for a living,
stop being the destitute child.
Come back and claim your heritage.
We should enjoy our happiness
and offer it to everyone.
Cherish this very moment.
Let go of the stream of distress
and embrace life fully in your arms.

Such a Magical Film


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I was wondering around Madrid’s Casa de Campo wild parkland the other day when I came across this, above. A lost red balloon.

Suddenly I remembered a favourite family film from the past! Le Ballon Rouge, The Red Balloon. I think it used be on the BBC every Christmas, because I certainly think of it as a Christmas film, though it has nothing to do with this time of year at all.

Here it is below, thanks to the wonders of Youtube. There is some discussion there of what it is about, but the only important thing for me is how it makes me feel in its 34 minutes – wonderful. Or as my son said, “It’s magical”.

Edit: It is no longer available on youtube due to copyright infringement (fair enough!) but you can get in on DVD from Amazon. Definitely worth it.