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The Forgetfulness of Squirrels

I read somewhere that every year millions of trees are accidentally planted by squirrels who bury nuts and then forget where they hid them.

I've always found this kind of accidental, unintended goodness, happening in the periphery of our deeds, truly beautiful. It's so obviously selfless. The squirrel doesn't intend to plant trees when it buries nuts, the squirrel is just being a squirrel, doing its thing, but out of this grows all this unforeseen beauty, benefiting countless other beings the squirrel isn't even remotely aware of.

Meister Eckhart wrote that God does not notice our works but only the love which is in them, not being so much concerned with the nature of our works as with the spirit with which we perform them. I imagine that the greater the love for what we do, the more miraculous and numerous the fruits of our doing will turn out to be. Unintended and unforeseen fruits, like trees growing out of a squirrels forgotten hiding places.

Sometimes we don't do what we love doing most, because we might think it's useless, not good enough, of no benefit to anyone, or even selfish. But who's to say where true benefit lies? If we are all, on a spiritual level, deeply connected and intertwined, then everything we do that lifts our spirit will inevitably lift up everybody else's spirit, ever so slightly.

Considering the proverbial flapping of a butterfly's wing, setting in motion a chain of events that eventually leads to a tornado on the other side of the world - who knows what the slightest flapping of our spiritual wings truly brings about ? Who is able to trace spirits mysterious and weirding ways through time and space ? Who could detect all the unintended and peripheral fruits coming out of our acts of love ? Perhaps a melody played on a horn by a music student, who might even doubt whether or not her practicing will ever amount to anything, flies through an open window and reaches the ears of a random passer-by who, strangely moved by the otherworldly sound of the horn, decides it is time to call his father whom he hasn't spoken in years. Or maybe the ecstasy reached by a young dancer in a village in Gabon comes to assist the spiritual ascension of a man who at that very same moment dies in a car crash in Toronto. Or how the joy and focused stillness experienced by a painter while working in Buenas Aires, somehow finds a weirding way through time and space and reaches the mind of a man in a subway in Tokyo, causing him to suddenly pause and question the validity of all the worrisome thoughts he has been lost in for such a long time.

And then there's all those beings in search of beauty, unknowingly spreading their lateral blessings, like bees seeking out nectar, unknowingly pollinating every flower they touch, cross-pollinating ideas with ideas, beauty with meaning, meaning with beauty, it's how culture grows and comes to blossom, it's how we lift each other up, across time and space, a myriad of beings following their joy.

If anything that truly elevates our spirit has a ripple effect on everyone else's spirit, I believe we can trust that when our heart prompts us to do something, it will be for the benefit of all. On the physical level it might look like nothing much has come from our endeavours but on a spiritual level we might have unknowingly moved mountains.

It's so easily overlooked that one of the ways to let love guide our doing is by simply doing what we love. Trusting that, if we keep at it, if we follow through, love will inevitably lead us back to its origin, which is, as we have so often been assured, ours as well. And who knows, if we stay as eager and dedicated as a squirrel, how many trees we may accidentally plant on the way.



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