Our bean arbor is, for me, a spiritual place. I feel peaceful and protected, cocooned in the shady, cool quietness there. The first time I went picking in the arbor, I walked the entire length of it and didn’t see a bean. They are kind of camouflaged, green on green, just hanging there within the tendrils and leaves of the bean plants. You have to snap on a mental filter to let you see the beans among the vines and then they become obvious. You have to learn to see them.
The arbor is a bamboo trellis that, unplanted, looks like a long, rickety tunnel. It’s maybe 7 feet high and 50 feet long. After the beans are planted, they run up and over the top and it becomes a long green tube. Next come the blooms and then beans. Lots and lots of beans. To pick them, you just walk into the shade of the arbor and pull beans by the handful, right, left and overhead, IF you have learned to see them, that is.
How many other treasures do we miss when we are blinded by minutiae? Why don’t we miss them all? Because, unconsciously, the fix is in. Without even realizing it (and we may resist admitting this truth) we reflexively see people (and things, too) through any number of filters. Some allow us to make timely and correct judgments that keep us safe or on track with our values and goals. Some, unfortunately divert our appreciation of the good toward distraction by the insignificant. We filter and judge by looks, clothes, the workout someone likes, a regional dialect or a verbal tic (Like, you know?) and about a million other things. With all these distractions prompting instant judgements, a person’s best qualities may be hiding in plain sight, like beans in a sea of green.
Confucius said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see”. Learning to see is important. Learning, first, to be aware and then to choose which of our filters we can trust comes through conscience effort, informed by our experiences and thoughtful reflection upon them. Call it “wisdom”.
Or, call it training our brains to walk among the greens and see the beans.