Friday, March 18, 2011

Simple Pleasures: Day 10 of 40 Days

After another gloomy northwest day yesterday, we awoke to large clumps of snow quickly falling from the sky. A layer of wet snow soon covered the ground, and we could no longer see the mountains across the way. I imagined that the road to Mt. Shasta, being at a higher elevation, was not the best to drive on today. It became a house project day.

As the afternoon wore on, snow turned to rain, the rain petered out, and eventually the clouds opened up enough to let some blue sky and sunshine peek through. I seized this unexpected opportunity, setting aside my projects, to take a nice walk outside.

It is exactly one mile from my driveway to what I call "Sketch-ville," an neighborhood street intersection where 2 of the 3 houses on the corners are like the one I described yesterday. Both houses have random deteriorating belongings spilling into their yards and driveways. It looks as though they could be owned by the same family because of the similar decor, though they are across the street from each other. This is my turn around spot, making it a 2 mile, 40 minute round-trip walk along the river.

My eyes squinted in this rare sunlight, taking in every minute detail of the natural world around me, as I sloshed through the quickly melting slush and let my thoughts drift freely. On nice days like this, it feels like an easier time to really think about the heavy things in life. I find that walks are also good times to let the mind deal with these uncomfortable thoughts. Maybe because I am already physically in motion, it is easier to mentally move through things and let them go.

Today on my walk, I let myself really consider the weight of all that is going on in the world. Today, I didn't try to find an escapism defense mechanism. I held in my heart all of the people who have lost loved ones in Japan this week, to all those that are there right now dealing with the known and unknown aftermath...many without food, water, shelter, heat and still facing the potential nuclear meltdowns. My thoughts also drifted to all of those people scattered around the world who wake every day to sounds of guns and missle attacks in their own neighborhoods. They live in such an unknown world, with such an unknown future. The people of Haiti still in a horrible state, all of the unrest and conflict in the Middle East as people fight for democracy and others fight for oil. Etc, etc, etc...the list goes on and on.

It gives me a good perspective, that the worries that fill my head and bring tension to my body, they are all so comparatively small. Real, but small. As I feel sadness for the people around the world, I let the sound and moving rush of the river wash through me taking with it all of this sadness and guilt and worry. I am lucky to have the great gifts I have, and to be surrounded by such beauty. I may not have much money. But my life is enriched by everything that surrounds me RIGHT NOW, signs of life, signs of hope:

*the rushing river swollen with snowmelt and rainfall, it's water bringing with it the potential for living things to grow

*the first spring daffodils in bloom

*the young new leaves on the blackberry vines lining the river - a promise of summertime sweet morsels warmed by the sun

*the tiniest pink and white flower buds just beginning to open on the fruit trees

*a litter of half-grown kittens sunning themselves on someones front porch

*new leaf buds on all the trees and on the witche's broom that will eventually be bursting with yellow flowers

*bulb flowers sprouting up their leaves through the earth

*roadside "weeds" beginning to provide their bright green cover on the ground: cleavers, plantian, miner's lettuce, dandelion (all medicinal and nutritious)

*the droplets of water that cling to the cedar boughs, glistening and sparkling in the sunlight

*the fog that hugs the sides of the mountains in spots, and the view of snow dusted trees at higher elevations in other spots

Again, Spring comes, and with it the promise of new life and rebirth. As we mourn the heartaches of those around the world and hold them in our hearts with compassion, let us celebrate what we have and the pleasures that we can find in all of the simple things that surround us.

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