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  • Carroll Devine

This One Thing

In the 1991 movie City Slickers, three friends in various strains of mid-life crisis join a two-week-cattle-drive getaway adventure that turns into a life-changing event.

When Billy Crystal’s character Mitch reaches a bewildering low point, Curly, the wizened resident cowboy, (played by Jack Palance) cryptically shares his words of wisdom. "This one thing I do," he only says. Not until Mitch sees all the pretenses of his life stripped away and he comes face to face with his own self does he understand what one thing it is he must do.

So it is as we seek our way in the world and search for life meaning, often looking in all the wrong places. As we shut out swirling chaos and confusion, the answers are found in the wonderful world within, in focused quiet contemplation, inner study and meditation.

Sitting beside a pond one morning, I watch an ever-patient egret, on filament-like legs, standing in the water beside the bank. Poised and absolutely still for fifteen, then twenty minutes, she is preparing for her breakfast to swim near. Neither nearby traffic noises nor walkers within her line of sight affect her extreme focus. More minutes pass. Then at the precise moment a fish appears within range of her elegant long neck and blade-like bill, she thrusts quickly, captures her meal and swallows it whole. No wasted energy, no distraction; the egret knows what she needs to do and does it. This is her yoga, her meditation, and her survival.

As the world becomes an increasingly confusing and often frightening place, brimming with banners, a cacophony of the corrupt and corrupters, stop signs and should signs, it would seem that the wisest step we can take is to center ourselves, to focus, and to learn what is "this one thing" we can do.

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