Sunday, February 28, 2010
Every Day is a Gift
An unexpected side-trip has brought me to The Sunshine State! I am joining my sweet and gracious parents on part of their road-trip through Florida and Georgia. Normally, I only get to spend a hand-full of days every year with my family, so I feel very lucky to be able to spend this extra time with them, and in beautiful places, no less! The first leg of our journey was spent in Daytona with my grandparents, who are warm, loving, and fabulous people, excited to take us on walks on the beach, to flea markets, and to their fitness club!
Yesterday we made our way to the Gulf side. We stopped in Tampa to have lunch with a distant cousin, whom I had never met before, and her new baby. In Tampa, I also visited with a family I was a nanny for in Portland years ago. I nannied for Ella and Esme for 3 years. They became very dear to my heart, and they still inspire me with their passion, creativity, and many involvements!
Now we are in Rotunda, where we are staying with my aunt and uncle, enjoying family stories, laughter, and good conversation. After Rotunda, we will be spending some time in Atlanta with my brother and sister-in-law! Then back to Texas for me, and Pennsylvania for my parents. This side-trip is already speeding by too fast!
The following are more impressions of my time in Florida so far.
A full-moon day on the Atlantic side of Florida: pelicans, vultures, cranes, water pipers, seashell gathering, bike rides on sandy roads through jungle-like neighborhoods, long walks alongside the ocean, palm trees, cacti blossoms, Spanish moss dripping like honey from the trees, favorite “houseplants” thriving huge in their natural environment, fresh oranges and fish, the cool ocean breeze, and enjoyably relaxing time with family!
Daytona is an interesting mix of beautiful landscapes, high-rise condos, kind retired folk, bikers, touristy shops, and mansions. It was Bike Week in Daytona, so the town was swarming with literally hundreds of motorcycles! Luckily, the area we were staying in was removed from the hubbub: quiet and un-commercialized.
An interesting aspect of the restaurants we went to in this coastal town was that instead of having fresh fish as advertised, I discovered that their fish were all farm raised and thus frozen for shipping. For truly fresh catch-of-the-day fish, we found “BoonDocks,” a tiny little open air joint right on the docks of the inlet, where the fishermen hang out. The blackened basa I ate was delicious!! Similar to the fish-houses, the “Fresh Produce” stands have been slim on Florida grown produce. The local strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, and starfruit are bountiful and tasty! Am I being too critical when I question the freshness of the remaining produce picked before fully ripened and shipped hundreds of miles from Mexico and South America? (Ok, I admit, I am missing my neighborhood co-op in Portland!! Though it too carried produce from other lands, I was able to bypass those selections and instead get a fairly extensive variety of local and seasonal organic produce, even in winter.)
As I approach the one month marker of leaving Portland, I am finding my anxiety around “What am I doing with my life?!?” wanting to creep in more and more. A good friend reminded me that I need to not let myself go there yet. This experience that I am creating for myself is relatively short compared to the rest of my life, and so it is time to savor the experience of being free and adventurous rather than feeling an urgency to figure it all out. It is the perfect time to allow myself to become comfortable with all of my unanswered questions, with an unknown future. For, there will always be unanswered questions, the future will always be unknown.
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot be given to you because you would not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer.” Rainer Maria Rilke
I am so grateful for this time. Sitting on the sand, in the sun, on the very edge of the country, I am free to be just me, right now. I am letting the soothing sounds of the waves and the ocean breeze smooth out the rough edges of my psyche. Soften me. Sooth me. The ocean washes away that which I do not need and brings me peace. When I let go of these worries about the future, I return to the present moment. I am able to be more present with those around me, that which surrounds me. I see that this moment is what is real, and my projected thoughts of the future are imaginary. I see that the present moment is filled with delights. This day, this moment is a gift. It is filled with real things to be grateful for. Clean water to drink. Fresh vegetables and fruit. Shelter. Warmth. Family. Friends. Sunshine. Ocean. The magic and beauty of the earth and it’s plants and creatures. All around me, in this very moment, I am surrounded by gifts. With my gratitude as fuel, I intend to live in a way that benefits all of life and helps to assure that future generations may enjoy these same gifts.
What are you grateful for in this moment of your life?