See the un-noticed
In the Loving Kindness Meditation we are encouraged to notice and then send loving kindness to those people in our lives that we tend not to notice. This could be a check out person, your dry cleaning person, a parking attendant, a person who comes and waters plants at your work, etc.
A participant of one of our Mindfulness courses decided she was really going to do this. On a regular basis she would get petrol from the same service station and every time it was the same Indian man who would serve at the counter. He would ask in his thick Indian accent how she was, if she was going to work and make a general comment on the weather. This chit-chat would irritate her. She would be thinking ‘bla, bla, bla, why can’t he just be quiet, take my money and leave me alone.’
On a day off, she again went to get petrol and the same man was there. He started asking her if she was going to work. This time she engaged with him, told him that she was having a day off and then asked him some general questions. Further conversation revealed that the name on his name badge was not his at all, rather it had been given to him by the manager as a name that Australians could relate to, rather than his Indian name which ‘no one would be able to remember’. She felt this, the ‘unseeness’ of this man, the injustice, the loss, the ignorance of herself in not seeing him until now.
A couple of days later she was in a long bank queue and when it was finally her turn, she was told she had been in the wrong queue and needed to be in another one. Twenty people were lined up in this new queue and she had concerns for her ability to stay Mindful. Then she saw her service station attendant. He was at the front of the queue, calling her name and waving at her, inviting her to have her turn ahead of himself.
There is a story of the Buddha holding a handful of leaves in his hands and then asking the people around him whether there are more leaves in his hand or on all the trees around. ‘On all the trees of course’. The Buddha agreed, and continued by saying that he was aware of and knows every leaf, however only teaches of the ones in his hand. The Buddha’s teachings are about suffering and so the story acknowledges that there is so much splendour, so many beautiful and graceful actions, so much wonder and amazement in the world. It really is about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, it is right here, right now, all we have to do is be present. Could be your service station attendant, could be your neighbour or could be a freshly fallen autumn leaf.