Enjoy the day everyone! Seriously.
A random thought about simplicity (and its opposite) from Barnes & Noble where coffee, a bagel and internet access are simply satisfying. This week I’ve been presented with all kinds of technical problems so this place feels like heaven. Posting on the blog, was not simple, nor was letting go of offering a daily quote. I realized how self-involved I had become when it occurred to me that without my daily post, you readers, whoever you are, might think I was dead. Ah, the death issue is always with us, but really, how serious do I have to be about myself? Ha, maybe very.
Enjoy the day everyone! Seriously.
A long-time friend came to visit yesterday. She’s a writer and so among other things, we talked about our writing. Who is our audience? Including one group of readers might turn another away. What about redundancies? Just because the idea is important to me doesn’t mean I need to keep saying it, nor, for that matter, does it preclude that others will even be interested. Then there are the caveats in writing about family, especially where memoir is concerned.
My writing flowed this morning. Maybe putting those questions on the table was what I needed to climb over some obstacles. I’m also thinking about other writer friends I might chat with. We always need our peers.
My sense of simplicity has much to do with context. Case in point: cleaning. Today at the cottage I did a little vacuuming and dusting. It was simple; the place doesn’t get very dusty or dirty and I’m not at all fastidious about it. Then off I went to the beach, which was cluttered with seaweed. A mess, but nature’s cleaning job, not mine. Nature cleans by moving seaweed around. Yesterday the seaweed was heaped in one small area of the beach; today it was spread all over; tomorrow, for all I know, there will be none to be seen.
Scientists claim that nature’s ways are not simple. True enough. But as long as we don’t try to tamper and change them, they remain simply awesome to me.
It’s true, for some, that solitude equals loneliness, which equates to fear. Although I don’t seem to experience this, the possibility was brought home to me the other day when a scrawny little mouse, racing from one snow bank to another between two buildings down by the beach, skittered in front of me. He stopped, seemingly frozen with fear; I could have reached out and picked him up. Being alone didn’t bode well for this little fellow. Where was his community? What was his reason for being, naked out there in the elements? I’m thinking that loneliness equals fear, equals lack of meaning. And having meaning is our reason for being.
I have to mention the weather; certainly nothing to be ignored here in the Northeast. At the cottage (and at home) the driveway has been plowed, and then plowed again and then again. I’ve shoveled morning, noon and night. People are tired of snow, and more snow, and then again some more; and they have their good reasons. I, too, for the inconvenience of it all. My mom often announced, “We aren’t in charge of the weather.” How true, how true.
But there are gratitudes to be gleaned: the sheer beauty of it all; no summer drought; that I can afford to pay someone to plow; that I am healthy enough to shovel. Those are mine.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
No less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952
Jigsaw puzzles are like life. Easy, hard, impossible; joyful, sorrowful, tragic. We deal with most of what comes our way, but sometimes we give up, which can be the best choice presented to us.
I’ve given up on a puzzle. The friend who lent it to me called it ‘The Red’ and claimed it needed to be done. Well, not by me. I’m not a random person and this puzzle was way too random for my temperament and personality. Hit or miss, but mainly miss. A piece a day would take me 1000 days.
In it’s place I have started a Tibetan Buddhist Mandela puzzle, given to me by another friend. “I’d be interested in what you think of this one.” Um, what was she thinking? The puzzle is hard, but not impossible, a meditation, a journey into the soul. I won’t give up on this one.
Every sunrise is a miracle. Zero degrees this morning. Clouds arose from the sea in front of the cottage.
Another Monday, making the shift from social to solitude. We all slide back and forth on the continuum, some spending more time than others at one end or another. It is very likely, due to my life stage and particular circumstances, that I spend more time in solitude than most of you. Family and career obligations are pretty much over, but the joy of family keeps me gregarious. It also may that I crave more solitude than many of you. Solitude is where I long to be.
This morning I was in heaven as I left the dentist and started driving the familiar route to the cottage. I stopped to buy some clam chowder, and then, here I was, savoring as I sat watching the sea. Right now I’m mighty content anticipating three full days completely alone. But, please understand, it’s not just the anticipation, it’s the moment by moment being.
The Olympics have started, need I tell you? Last night the family was tuned to the opening ceremony; newspaper articles are already piling up. More will keep coming, more TV coverage, more reading. Now, please don’t get me wrong, there are piles of rewarding reasons to follow the Olympics; many of my friends and family will be doing so, and in past years I’ve been sitting right beside them. However, this year I’ve chosen not to watch and not to read about them, at least not very much.
This decision has to do with my longing to live in silence, solitude and simplicity whenever and wherever I can. I go to the cottage to do just that, so why would I ever turn on the TV and get immersed in it all? On the other hand, I am aware that whenever I step out of the cultural mainstream, I take the risk of separating myself from the life and people I know. I don’t want to do that in any hurtful way, so I try to be conscious of what I do and don’t do, say and don’t say. For the most part I keep a low profile. In fact, I reveal more about my longing for the 3S's on this blog than I do in person.
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