David K. Reynolds is the founder of Constructive Living, an American brand of self-development based on doing well. It owes its inspiration to a Japanese psychiatrist named Morita. In this collection of "poetic musings," Reynolds ponders the invaluable nature of attention to everyday living with its mix of people, objects, experiences, and surprises.
"Put out the trash and wash the car. Those who do so are performing miracles. Miracles are feats no one can successfully explain. Miracles are everything you do," writes the author. He believes that doing what needs to be done is the essence of living well. In this perspective, there is no difference between washing the dishes, discovering a cure for polio, defending an innocent person in court, or feeding a baby.
While many seekers still believe they need to find a guru or teacher, Reynolds asserts that "Reality is your teacher." This classroom is open all year round, 24 hours a day. We can learn what we need to know from a bag blowing in the breeze, a lover, a cat, or an obnoxious person. It's all the same. Reality keeps producing new data for us.
One of our favorite insights from Reynolds is this simple one: "If you don't like the weather now, just wait a few minutes." Everything changes. The author thinks we should look at our feelings in this way. They come and go like the clouds. The same goes for the labels we give to ourselves and to those we come into contact with daily. Use "em and lose "em. Don't get too attached to these transitory anchors.
Reynolds salutes the art of being present: "It's never too late to discover the present. The older we get, the better chance we have to learn to wait. As babies, we wanted our needs to be satisfied now. As we age, we learn that nows hold much more than merely satisfying our hunger. Letting others go first also needs to be done, sometimes."
It's one thing to think about putting others first, and quite another to actually do it on the street or in a crowded theatre. That's what is so appealing about Constructive Living: all that matters is to keep on doing what needs to be done. So that is exactly what we're going to do now: feed the cats and prepare dinner with all the attention we can muster. Another day, another handful of miracles.