When I heard the title of a book, “Squirrels and the art of tightrope walking.” I thought, “what a weird, quirky name.” The book was written by Helen Jandamit. I decided to attend her book event, given the title, completely out of curiosity.
Helen is a British expat living in Thailand. She said that when she first arrived here, she thought she was going to be here for just three months. However, as it turned out, she has been living here for 42 years now.
She said she loves Thailand and what attracted her here in the first place was the meditation. She had been studying, practicing and implementing it as part of her daily life. She learnt to be grounded with what surrounded her and embraced anything that arises. When she was on her way to host her book event, she was stuck in the usual Bangkok traffic for 2 hours. She thought she could just be annoyed by the fact that she had to be stuck in traffic just to travel across the city, to the place she wanted to go or she could also just take things as they are – if there had to be long hours in traffic, so be it. She learnt to live with what that comes, takes it and lives with it. It’s really that simple to her.
She once had the chance to live life like monks’, following the exact same principles and disciplines of carrying out an everyday routine. She said she was lucky to have the chance to do it. During the book event, she told us to reach out one of our hands, then make a fist. She asked, “Do you know which finger or fingers touch the centre of your palm first?” Everyone’s look was blank. We thought it’s something we would have known because it’s a natural thing, but no one did really notice.
The movement of our hands, something so close to us as our body, something we tend to neglect because we were distracted with everything else that was going on around us. We simply forgot to pay attention to ourselves so close as noticing little things like the natural movement of our hands. She then asked us to do it again but this time noticed which finger touches the centre of the palm first. What happened was that some people just had a habitual reaction of making the middle finger which is the longest finger reach the centre of their palms first. However, that’s more on our expectation and anticipation that was forcing our body in its movement, instead of just letting it be natural.
And if you want know which finger or fingers actually really touch the centre of your palm first, just reach out your hand, relax, let it fall into a natural movement, wait and see what happens. Let go of your expectation. Be with it.
Helen was at a coffee shop nearby her place when she wrote the book. She was sitting at her usual seat and noticed a squirrel on the electricity post. The way it moved caught her attention and intrigued her. It was skipping and negotiating its way with all the obstacles that came in its path. And how nice would it be if we could just live life like the squirrels – take it easy, go with it and take whatever that comes in our path. The squirrels are tactful and skilful with their quick movements, living their everyday lives. They seem to be playful and carefree in their survival. They don’t have to expect, they just live it.