April is the time to hunt the abundant wild mushrooms in the Midwest. As I find myself planted in western Indiana, what better way to pass a Sunday afternoon than in search of the yummy fungi. This trip was different for my cousin Mario was my right hand man. I readily admit that he is someone who I have not spent a lot of time with. It’s odd that you have this physical tie to someone but really have no actual connection or understanding of them. Often with extended families, we take them for granted and often end up strangers. If asked questions about your uncles and cousins’ lives could you answer (although Facebook is a modern way of keeping up more on others affairs)? It’s like I’ve written about before with rock climbing or hunting. Our friends and family are there but how often do we engage or interact or share experiences with them? You see someone a couple of times a year and you’re automatically supposed to have a bond with these people? I think not. Which is something I’ve been working on-relationships. I went hunting just me and my grandpa this year and me and Cliff have thrown out fishing in Texas with him. My grandma is another story that I’ll have to contemplate (although me and my other grandma have been discussing an art class this summer and are working on a garden). I’ve taken Elizabeth rock-climbing. Me and Dad hike; Cliff and I hunt and are going on a camping trip; Amanda and I have went rock-climbing and have future plans for tattoos and to plant a garden; I’ve taken the boys to the Children’s Museum and we’ve all taken them fishing; mom and I are together all the time, but we run together as well as virtually everything else. Wow listing it shows again how rich you are in life, without necessarily having an abundance of money. This and these people and these times spent with them are whats important. Don’t get me wrong I love my solo adventures and California was exponential to my Taoism and self-growth, but social relationships are just as important. So here I am last Sunday with this potential opportunity for spending time with a family member that I rarely get to. This awareness is firstly a testament of my growth to see this chance and to embrace. Was it a competition to see who could get the most? Or was it even important that we found any mushrooms? No there were no egos (at least not on my part). We strolled through the trees of my grandparents property keeping are eyes glued to the ground in hopes of spotting a mushroom. Walking along the way it surprises me how we have so much to talk about and how easy it is for us to converse. I realize that I truly like Mario. I’ve come to notice this in my Tao practices, trying not to judge. When you’re not judging someone its easier to see yourself in them and then they just become people. Often times we try to place people or we put them in a box of how they should be or behave. We glamorize movie stars, label people as lazy or arrogant, etc. People have dimensions and when we label them we don’t see the real them. At work, we’ve been working out with Daniel. Who I initially would before have written off or only thought of as shy or intraverted. Instead I’ve let things be and as time has progressed I’ve been able to see more Daniel, to see how similar we are and that I genuinely like him too (That’s the problem lately, I’ve realized that I just like everyone!) So now instead of judging others I look for bits of myself in them. Or instead of viewing myself as special or different I look for similarities. My new liking of everyone may seem naive to some, but we are all alike and everyone has good in them (granted some cover it up with excuses and fears, but it’s still there you just have to search harder). Call me naive, but I’d rather be like Anne Frank- hiding out from Nazi’s because of her faith, yet still believing in the good of people- than seeing the world as wicked (look for the potential goodness leaning against the supposed misfortune). So to some a little mushroom hunt with a younger cousin may not seem relevant, but for me it is a lesson and a chance to practice my skills so I come away with an experience for the memory bank and a story to share with the world. I do have to end by saying we only found 4 peckerheads, the elusive morels having eluded our shrewd eyes, but like I said the mushrooms were irrelevant in the skeem of the things!