I envy those who are able to walk through life like teflon, letting the worries of “what ifs” roll off their backs, and yet still remain present, compassionate and full of life. My thoughts are often far too many steps ahead of myself, scenarios of “what ifs” down numerous paths with differing outcomes that will most likely never be. However much I try to be present and calm and take time each day to slow down, being so many steps ahead of life (which by the way is a giant illusion) inevitably hinders my ability to fully appreciate the now.
Last week I was home, reading and glanced up to see small sun patches stretching across my floor. I sighed, smiled and watched shadows overtake them intermittently as wind blew the curtains over their light. And I noticed the light seemed thinner, less vibrant, a little cooler in temperature. I recognized that light. It was the color scheme of fall. Just like that I felt the entirety of this very short midwestern summer pass with the next flap of the cotton curtain hanging over my window. Now that I listened more intently, I could hear the scuttle of dried leaves in the driveway more prominently than the hushing sound of full, lush, green trees. Fall is my favorite season. It brings a crispness, freshness, and for me, the overall feeling of possiblity. The air even smells like change. And yet, that evening, I felt my heart drop a bit. I had pushed through the long, long, long winter here, with the final 16 inches of snow falling on May 2nd (the snow so heavy it broke power lines), and the long, wet, chilly spring. A mere few weeks ago summer finally arrived. And now it was gone.
As the week progressed I began thinking of just how temporary everything is in life. Most of my jobs have been for small jaunts of time, and I move often. I often feel I’m living in the temporal. The thought of living in the same building and city and working at the same job for 5 years literally is in-comprehendible to me. (Not because it’s something I don’t desire, but rather, something I have no experience with. Since graduating high school 10 years ago, the longest I’ve lived in one apartment has been 2 years, with those summers spent in other places.) There are graces that come with this, but also anxieties. I started listing things in life that were temporal; like friendships, every single relationship I’ll ever have, my car, the length of time tires stay on my wheels, each year I turn older, each day that passes, all my clothing and comforts of living, the things I loathe and the items I love, dreams, desires, wants, the expiration dates on real, whole foods, and of course, seasons. They too shall pass.
Although this may seem like a depressing thought pattern to some of you reading this, for me it was more of an enriching process of appreciating, noticing, letting go and learning to trust that the next steps in front of me will be good. Unknown, and probably unexpected, and much different than I’m imagining. But they will be there. All the more, as each day we move forward in our lives, and look back on the days that have passed and the steps we’ve taken, that we have been taken care of. That up until this very point of just a little over 28 years, I have made it. So why do I fear the next day so much? The next season? I have issues with trust. Maybe someday my loathing of winter and snow will turn to love with all those here who prefer a white, frozen, crystal landscape to a lush, sunny, humid one.
One Thousand Gifts
To help me live in the “now” and grow in noticing all the good things in my life each day, I’ve started a list, counting each day (some in word form, others in sketches or photographs). These can be small things like someone’s laugh, or a good cup of coffee. The book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp inspired me to do this (and I confess I’ve read it 11 times). Some of the good things I’ve written down (in no particular order):
1,207. Open spaces, breeze, lush green grass
1, 212. Condensation on mugs
1,182. Red wine, swirling in glass
1,190. Fresh berries, homemade whipped cream
1,195. Windows open, breeze blowing, summer
1,123. Window washer fluid
1,137. Rough road of life
1,146. That I have enough
1,101. Hole in big toe of socks
1,075. Warm tea
1,058. Orange sun setting softly in 19 degree weather
1,022. Clean bathrooms
1. High heels clicking against pavement
21. Blue guitars with red capos
127. Pink sky between trees
818. Fireflies filling path to little house at night