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Esteemed Reader 

Esteemed Reader of Our Magazine:

There has been a bumper crop of blueberries this year. Each time I walk along the Shawangunk ridge I am astounded that their numbers don’t seem to diminish. Alone, or with friends, I pause my hike often to pick them, collecting a handful with each reach into a bush. In some places an entire hillside is suffused with a purple hue.

Such abundance is rare. It is not often that I get the feeling that there is more of something than I could ever need. And though the blueberries are completely available to me, they are not mine. They are equally available to anyone that would venture onto the ridge.

Faced with so many berries, my reactions occurred in series. First there was the bacchanal, as I ate the berries by the mouthful, even forgetting to taste their bright tartness. There was furtive harvesting and the instinctive gratification of being fed. But gradually, as satiation and the security that the berries would not run out set
in, I slowed down and become present to the pop of each berry I plucked from a branch. I began to notice the dramatic and subtle difference in color, flavor, texture, and juiciness of berries from different bushes and locations.

I felt like the berry bushes, and even the whole mountain was offering itself to me, personally. On reflection I considered that this is true. The berries are for me. And the offering is also completely impersonal, like the radiance of the sun, which shines equally on all, and yet every one receives the off ering of its warmth and light. The blueberry bushes, like the sun, have their own imperatives and concerns that correspond to their nature. They are pursuing success in the world of blueberry bushes, seeking spots with more light and the right amount of water. The conditions this year, or perhaps a cosmic need for more blueberries, have invited them into an astonishing level of wellness. They have been lucky, and each individual blueberry bush ego (meaning it possesses a feeling of “I”) is glad for it. One might say they are full of themselves.

As if to prove capitalist economic theory, the success of the blueberry bushes has a trickle-down effect. It has trickled down to you and me, who enjoy reaching in and pulling out berries by the handful. Their success has trickled down to the bears, whose enthusiasm is evidenced by impressive mounds of bright purple shit on the trail. The success of the blueberry bushes is the success of all.

What have the blueberries done to be so successful?
They have been themselves, just as the sun (most certainly an ego of the highest order) is busy being itself. In the process of being itself the sun sheds light and life into the whole solar system and beyond. And in the process of being themselves, the blueberry bushes manifest abundant fruitfulness.

What do you make of that?
I feel grateful to blueberry bushes.

For what?
For being themselves so fully, and making the fruits of that fulfillment available to all, unconditionally.

What else?
For demonstrating that being fully oneself, and using all available conditions to produce health, wellness, and abundant openness is not self-serving. In fact it is a gift to all and everything.

This is the meaning of the saying “in order to be, in reality, a just and good altruist, it is inevitably required first of all to be an out-and-out egoist.”

Are you suggesting a disposition of self-centeredness?
Of course, you idiot! But not the upside-down, backwards notion of “self ” you are always entertaining. I mean the self that doesn’t need to go around calling itself “I”. I mean the self that simply, tacitly, is.

How do I get to that?
You already are that. You are the one that is present when you have a feeling of abundance; when you are full to overflowing with your own presence and there is no sense of lack or want. You and the world are both present, and connected, by your attention, which flows and overflows willingly.

What do the blueberry bushes know that I don’t?
Are you nuts? Blueberries don’t know anything. They just are, according to their nature. Your problem is that you have departed from yours. You look to things out there to complete yourself. You think you need to eat blueberries to be happy. You’re mistaken.

What happens when I am myself?
Get here, we’ll do the rest.

Speaking of Blueberries, Shawanagunk

  • Jason Stern reacts to the bumper crop of blueberries this summer.


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