Path between trees
Path between trees
It was the worst of times, it was the best of times, it was a time of disbelief, it was a time of hope, it was a time of media noise, it was a time of personal quiet, it was the spring of not going anywhere, it was the summer of reading everything.
The pandemic is by no means over, but now that the situation is better in at least some countries, I can look back on the last 16 months or so and see some of the good that came out them.
It all started with a yoga mat with poses illustrated on it. Now, I’m not doing the sun salutation or headstands. Nor do I have any aspirations to contort my body into semi-indecent poses like you see on the covers of yoga magazines. But I do yoga at least 3 times a week and it’s quietly wonderful.
Yoga, I’ve come to believe, is not some new age nonsense, but a simple way to appreciate your body and feel at ease in it.
I’ve always meant to penpal but never got around to doing it–until the pandemic. Now I’m happy to say I have penpals around the world.
Getting to know someone like that, from a distance, one word at a time, one wait at a time, can be special. More than acquiring new perspectives, it’s an opportunity to see yourself reflected in another’s curiosity.
Sitting in my room writing and reading, I felt that something was missing. Not love, no, it felt good being a hermit, at least for a bit longer. And then it struck me–my room looked the way I wanted it to look, but didn’t smell of anything.
I got a simple aromatherapy lamp and half a dozen essential oils, and now I’m slowly discovering, one by one, the wonderful world of natural scents, plants and trees, and another form of quiet wisdom I didn’t pay attention to before.
I haven’t traveled lately, but then I didn’t feel the need to. I owe that to the garden. There was a greenhouse to set up, and soil to prepare, and vegetables to plant and water, and other green things to do.
Something about soil on your hands that doesn’t make your hands feel dirty. On the contrary, it enriches them.
How can I have been living for so long not knowing the simple pleasure of oatmeal with nuts and forest fruit and cranberries and bananas and cinnamon, and a bit, just a bit of honey?
I may have lost a cat–Manoli hasn’t showed up in months. But I gained Mozo and Beto, two furry four-leggers who
more than once kept me awake at night with their maddening barking are good at being what they are, young dogs.
PS: Not so furry these days, since they got a trim and now are wearing summer coats.
With few goings out and distractions, it was easier to return to my breathing, to meditation, to the small and simple everyday pleasures of life. To the present moment, the here and the now.
To seeing things as they are and appreciating them for that, not wanting to change them in any way.
I hope to continue inhabiting the present long after the world readjusts itself to a new normal, and myself with it.
Painting: Futur-Simple (c) Azucena
Every day we look at countless things, but we see most of them without seeing them while thinking of other things, while living in our heads.
Often, it’s not until we receive an important message on our phone, come across a striking photo in our social media feed, or glance at our reflection in the mirror that we pause and pay attention.
Seeing is one of my favorite things to do in life. Waking up in the morning and seeing the window—bright or cloudy—brings me a quiet joy that lifts off me the weight of gravity.
So, what are nine things that are worth seeing every day—and not merely worth looking at?
The sky and the shapes of clouds. Because not seeing the sky means not lifting your eyes from the ground and what’s around you, it’s not keeping your chin up.
The trees. Because they breathe for us, one leaf at a time. And because what would our world be without trees?
The food on our plate. Because it’s a big deal—it’s life, energy, vitality, and pleasure, and because many people in the world are hungry.
Our hands. Because they do so much every day. We take them too much for granted.
Our feet as we walk. Because there is something beautiful and encouraging about their movement.
Words on a printed page and/or handwritten on a blank page or in a notebook. Because not reading is living only one life instead of a thousand. And because not jotting down a few words at least now is missing on how to be alone with yourself in a good way.
The water in the glass before we drink it. Because water lets other colors and forms show through and is humble even as it is life-giving.
The faces of the people we care about. Because looking at them without seeing them is missing on so much of life, and because we will come to miss those faces one day.
The window of the room we spend most of our time in. Because it’s only human to look out, at least now and then, whether the scene is pretty or not.
Is there anything else you’d add to this list?
Painting c) Matt Talbert, Seeing the World Through Fresh Eyes.