Early this morning, my two-year-old girl woke up crying in fear of the booming thunder and pulsing lightning outside her windows. With none of my soothing tricks or cry-it-out methods working this time, she and I waltzed downstairs, turned on some Keith Jarret, plopped on the chaise lounge in my study, and each took a book to read. I: essays in the new anthology The Mind (published by The Edge). She: The Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity by Wm. S. Coperthwaite. Not that she “reads,” yet, but she does like to flip through some of my books, especially ones like this one with words and with photographs.
For whatever reason, she’s become fond of this book. It’s a subtle book without big glossy photos – and none with puppies. But maybe this little mirror senses in this book what I love and what my wife must have sensed when she saw it at the bookstore and bought it for me.
Coperthwaite is a builder, designer, and teacher who lives in Maine. In the book, he simply offers his meditations and reflections on just what the title and sub-title say – a handmade life in search of simplicity.
So, on this lightning-riddled morning, she turned to a page and urged my attention with a “Look, Papa” and a pointing finger. The photograph she pointed to is of an early morning blue-lens coast shot with nothing but a misty horizon in the background and two stacked stones in the foreground. All cast in pre-dawn blue. And, no kidding, she pointed to the quotation beneath it. It reads,
My teaching is a raft whereon men may reach the far shore.
The sad fact is that so many mistake the raft for the shore. – The Buddha
I’m not sure how you read that statement, but here’s my take: Maybe it means that the teachings themselves are just that – teachings. The teachings aren’t the end; they’re the means, the skillful means, no less. They’re the conveyor. The suggestions. The “interventions,” to use psychologists’ lingo. We have to do the rowing to get there. We have to practice.
Anyway, I thanked my little raft for showing me the photo and the words and hoped we’d make it through this rainy day safely. So far, so good.
What’s your take on those words?
Regardless, share your day’s three highlights and let us know where you’re writing from.
See you in the woods,