Thursday, November 25, 2010

Being Thankful

This week I paused on a city sidewalk to admire bone colored ginkgo leaves, each one tipped in amber, fluttering in the wind against a royal blue sky.

In the mornings I sometimes wake up to the whirring of a hummingbird drinking nectar from the red sage blossoms outside my bedroom window. Beyond the tiny bird's silhouette is the Pacific Ocean, blanketed with fog and tinted pink at the horizon.

Some of my gratitude rituals include: sitting in my garden (or bathtub) and seeing shy little birds as they land on the feeder, making it sway like a swing. Watching trees through a window as they blow about in a storm. Feeding the fish, their mouths wide open in happy anticipation as they feel my footsteps on the path to the pond.

To this list I'd add doing the dishes, warm bubbly water flowing over my hands. (I've heard if you look at your palms, you will see your ancestors.) Making coffee. Smiling into my husband's eyes. Smelling the surprising late winter blooms of the tiny Cecil Bruner roses at Deetjens Inn. Sunrises. Raindrops on windows. Dewdrops on anything. Brushing my hair. The feel of silk, well worn cotton and the mysterious promise of lace.

One thing that living in Nature makes perfectly crystal clear is that gratitude is the key to happiness. I repeat: gratitude is the key to happiness. It's our little secret in Big Sur, that by simply observing the natural world we can tap into this magical source of presence and contentment.

If we could put it in vials, like voodoo medicine, we'd call it the Mother Lode. After almost 20 years in Big Sur, I find that Nature shows me her beauty everywhere I stop to look, including at my Mother's, where I am on this lovely Thanksgiving morning.

This process, known among spiritual seekers as "Wanting what you have", is a way to let go of Life's constant imperfections and disappointments. Stop, look and listen: it unlocks the jail of the mind and for a while sets us free from worries, obsessions and regrets. It gives blessed relief when the inevitable snafus hit.

When Nature fan-dances across our consciousness at year end, with all the wake-up calls of the season, I feel encouraged to lay down all my personal battle flags, to stop wanting something else, something more. It's time instead to see beauty everywhere, even in those perfect "imperfections", and for today at least, to feel grateful for it ALL.