Today, I’m grateful simply to want what I have, and to not mind what happens.
Here, between the inferno to the west and the deluge to the southeast, weather extremes swirling in ever more intense waves through the atmosphere, here in this little yarden on this high, dry mesa, it’s a calm, balmy day. I dwell in a near-constant state of overwhelm when awareness extends from coast to coast, monitoring weather. So much is happening all the time; so many lives changing, souls suffering, not only humans but other beings: insects, trees, bears and fawns, predators, prey; birds of all feathers fleeing fire. Snakes, rodents, roaches, great floating orbs of fire ants, all uprooted by rain, and mammals drowned; alligators climbing to higher ground, and houses washed away, some with people in them. Hurricanes today stay twice as strong for twice as long after landfall as they did fifty years ago.
I am grateful for this one peaceful day that I got to experience here in this one little yard in this vast plateau between extremes. I’m grateful for contentment and equanimity.
I’m grateful for this recipe, Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil. I spiralized the first garden zucchini and tossed it in the pan instead of pasta. The sauce involves blended corn, scallions, parmesan, and oodles of fresh basil. So simple, so delicious! Grateful for homegrown food, and the conditions of this life at this moment that allow for all the luxuries of this peaceful day, this spot of stillness here, amidst the uncontrollable atmosphere.
I shook up my morning routine for the first time in a very long while today. Up early and, after a short walk with Stellar, out the door to town. I had a 7:45 PT appointment. On the way home, I made a spontaneous stop at Farm Runners to pick up ice cream, and as usual walked out with more than I intended to–the best kind of good intention gone awry. I’m grateful for being forced out of my comfort zone and stretching my wings, splurging on a homemade blueberry poptart and my first coffee out since Covid. Driving with a go-cup and pastry evoked nostalgia for countless cross-country mornings: waking early, packing up camp, and stopping at the closest gas station or market for a cup of coffee and a doughnut, breakfast of the open road. Now, I am content with a much smaller range.
It’s taken a couple of months and a dozen trips to feel some semblance of the way it was before, when, though I was always eager to head home after appointments or errands, I often added value to outings with extra stops. During this lull in the pandemic, when I’ve had to go out, it’s been with a git-r-done attitude: go, git-er-done, and git home, no lollygaggin. So it was notable that this morning I felt relaxed enough to interrupt that homeward momentum. I’m grateful to be letting go, just a little bit, of the vigilance that has ruled the past fifteen months; allowing for and enjoying spontaneity.
This morning brought the promise of rain, which ultimately manifested as only a few misty sprinkles between hours of cool sunshine. Stellar and Topaz walked with me through the woods, I baked some cinnamon buns and enjoyed the sugary treat outside with coffee on the patio as phoebes flitted and titmice tittered, and I finished reading a pretty good novel. Then I attended to my lesson plan and taught the first of eight classes to a second pair of students, embarking on the last practice session before I get certified to teach mindfulness. After that, we walked again, to the canyon in evening sun, and then I made dinner and watched some shows. It was a mundane, simple Saturday, the kind I love, and I’m grateful for every living moment of this day spent in contentment.
I only checked the news headlines a couple of times, and each time I felt discontent, frustrated, angry, and sad. People can be disappointing. Human nature has an evil streak, try as we might to deny it. Greed, hatred, and delusion are the three poisons of mind that cause the most suffering in the world. The Buddha recognized them 2500 years ago: They were with us then, and they remain today; they may have evolved along with our other, better qualities as we became the human species, and there may have been an adaptive advantage then, but there isn’t now. I truly don’t see any hope for eradicating them in general, but I can sure do my best to diminish them in my own mind. By choosing to turn my attention away from the so-called ‘news’ that is full of them, and toward the living, breathing planet under my feet, I’m able to water the seeds of gratitude, compassion, kindness and joy. This brings a pure, deep contentment to each day.
I’m grateful that I have lived long enough to find contentment, after a lifetime of chasing illusory ideals of happiness. I’m grateful for every step that led me here (though I think I could have done without several-many of the more painful lessons along the way), for each right step, and for each wrong step that taught me something, offered an insight, invited a course correction. I’m grateful that I survived my poor decisions, and finally understand the power of choosing where I place my attention.