One hundred mergansers, swimming randomly on the bay, greeted me this afternoon upon my return to the cottage. They seemed to be loving the calmness of low tide and feeling not a care in the world--nor did they sense that another storm was on its way. What a way to live! After my visit to Mom, I needed those carefree merganser friends to remind me to let go of all the chatter in my head. I’m going to do that right now!
I’ve been watching Izzy carry out her morning routine-- eating, bathing, looking out the window. Eating and looking varies, due to the circumstances of the human being in her life on a given day, but the bathing happens regardless. It’s part of her bodily function.
As I carry out my morning routine, which includes repeats of sitting, thinking, looking (especially when I’m at the cottage), and
reading— and, oh yes, sipping coffee, Izzy sits in the Angel Room with me, repeatedly licking her paw and washing,
If nothing else, a morning routine grounds me for the day. If I don’t have “my morning,” I feel like I’m playing catch up with myself all day. A little morning time for those of us looking for silence, solitude and simplicity may be the best way to grab what we long for. It feeds our mind and spirit, and just maybe we can consider it as a bodily function that needs tending.
“I say follow your bliss and don’t be afraid and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
These words by Joseph Campbell have always resonated with me. They speak to my intention for this blog, that it might just open the door that has always been waiting for someone, someone who just needs a little companionship or encouragement to follow their bliss
I am reminded of Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Journey,” in which she implores us to save the only life we can, our own. (The poem is posted on my Home page.)
I won’t let anyone convince me that following my bliss is a selfish, egocentric, narcissistic act. No, it is an honest act; I have to tell the truth to myself and others. It’s a courageous act; situations change when I open doors. Most importantly, it is a spiritual act; I find myself in the presence of something beyond myself, call it Divine Presence, The Holy, God.
Here's the fuller quote.
"If you follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say follow your bliss and don’t be afraid and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be."
There was no one surfing out there this morning, but I’ve been surfing the internet to find out at what temperature salt water freezes--approximately-2 degrees for sea water but there are many variables. No surfers but plenty of ice—the railing down to the beach was encased in it, as were the steps and rocks along the beach. The sand was covered with soft ice water, keeping the tide water from going out and making it slippery underfoot. No jogging along the beach for me today! And what about the gulls? A few lone ones sitting, not standing. It was just me and a few gulls out there. Simple, quiet solitude.
But....Oh, no, it's going to snow again tonight.
We are cat sitting for our son’s cat, Izzy. Izzy is five years old and although new to our family, without a doubt she was a member of a loving family for the first five years of her life. How do I know? Simple! Izzy knows how to nap. At the moment she is napping on my chair in the Angel Room. When I get up and the chair rocks, Izzy stays napping. In the morning she doesn’t beat me downstairs for her breakfast, but takes her leisurely time waking up and sauntering down. Izzy doesn’t get distracted or skittish. She just keeps napping.
So, I ask myself, “Does Izzy have anything to teach me about the art of napping or should I just enjoy her rhythm?” Probably both. Izzy is calm, not anxious. She doesn’t seem to have a lot on her mind and is able to tend to things at her own slow, thoughtful pace. All good napping (and living) lessons, for me… But I can't overdo this. After all..., I’m not a cat.
A must read.
I’ve been thinking about naps. In fact, I think about naps every day because that’s just about as often as I try to take one. Ten or twenty minute will do it for me, but even if I don’t doze off, I rest my eyes and my mind/body/spirit slips into some kind of meditative state.
Recently I was talking with some friends about naps. One said she wakes up feeling guilty about all the things she didn’t get done. The other said that she used to feel that way but now she loves the relaxation, and anyway, “Most of the things that I think I should get done aren’t really that important. It just doesn’t matter.”
A nap is a way for me to tap into the 3S’s, even when I’m home and on a busy schedule. In practical terms, I nap in solitude and silence, although sometimes I put on a meditation CD; the process is simple as long as I’m warm and comfortable. But this meditation nap leads me to a deeper place, which continues long after my nap is over. When I’m up and about, I’m more apt to feel the silence even in the midst of activity; I can step into solitude even when people are around; and life seems more simple, even when activities are complex. It’s a state of mind, as the expression goes, but I’m going to call it a state of body/mind/spirit. The cumulative effect is well worth the excuse not to do unnecessary chores. It’s as simple as that.
“What a difference a day makes.” I don’t know who gets credit for that, but I know it’s in a song. Anyway, I just have to show you the yesterday and today pictures from the deck, taken just twenty-four hours apart.
My yesterday and today isn’t just about the sunrise, and I bet it isn’t for those of you who live in New England. You teachers (and by default, kids and parents) had a snow day. Ah, but today is a sun day—“Out, out of the house,” my sister used to tell the kids.
I’ll be heading home where, although my life takes on a less obvious silence, solitude and simplicity, I do my best to keep the spirit. Being at the cottage for five nights has given me a good dose of the 3S’s, but now that fourth S, service, is creeping in. Here’s what I'm thinking about it as I take one last look at the sea in front of me. As a start, service is about being face to face with other human beings in some positive way and about making a difference. At it’s best it’s about giving and receiving.
What do I do with my cottage time besides take pictures on the beach, shovel, cook and write on this blog? I do jigsaw puzzles. Working on a jig, as I call it, gets me “out of my head” and into my right brain. I’m not a very sedentary person, and I don’t concentrate easily for long periods of time, so having a jig to jig back and forth to appeals to my internal rhythm.
Working on a jigsaw puzzle is also a meditative experience. Sometimes my conscious thinking just disappears. Other times it wanders as a stream of consciousness. For example, this puzzle of the Thanksgiving painting by Norman Rockwell initiated a reflection that went from being thankful for this cottage by the sea, to the realization that the 3S’s conjure up thoughts of gratitude, to the idea that there is a fourth S, that of Service, and then to the practical idea that I want to create a section on this website that addresses the deeper questions about the purpose of life. You know what kinds of questions, because I’m sure you have them, too. What’s the purpose of life? Of my life? What about God? What is this mysterious something that all human beings long for? Why are we here, anyway?
I’ll let you know when I launch the new section, but first I have to shovel and start my next jig.
Note the surfer to the right of the big wave just below the horizon.
Have you ever noticed that people can’t seem to get on with any conversation until they’ve discussed the weather? I don’t want to belabor this weather business, but that’s what I’ve been dealing with, so bear with me. Last night the power was off from midnight until 8:15. All I could think of was, "I'm going to be freezing when I get up." And, "How can I get some coffee?” Talk about being self-involved!!
The power is now on; I have heat and coffee, and life feels simple once again. Actually, life ought to be simple (and quiet) without power, which goes to show that this idea of simplicity isn’t simple.
Speaking of power, there were surfers on the beach today, delighting in their own power to lift themselves along the waves for a few seconds. How can we apply the 3S’s to these surfers? Preparation (time, expense, training) for that moment of elation can’t be simple. Although surfing is solitary, one always surfs with a buddy. And what about silence? We seem to know that silence is never simple, and that it certainly isn’t about lack of sound. I have to believe that the silence of the waves must have been exquisite to the surfer’s ears.
“I am so psyched; it’s a perfect way to spend my lunch hour,” a surfer told me as I walked by his car. Maybe the ocean waves became his cottage by the sea today. Maybe his cottage time was that very moment, in the middle of the day, on a windy beach, in the dead of winter.
I want to acknowledge those times when the absolute last thing we are looking for is silence, solitude and simplicity and that being alone isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Here I am at the cottage doing all the shoveling today, and the snow is still coming down and there’s more forecast for tomorrow. I know there are others reading this blog who are dealing all by themselves with ice on the roof, inside leaks and drips, and unplowed driveways.
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