Monday, September 28, 2020
Saturday, August 15, 2020
Humor, I think, tops the list of requirements. It’s the slippery oil that greases the tracks, the non-stick spray that releases us from melting into a puddle or sizzling to a crisp. Instead, we glide (more or less) through the bumpy moments.
While complaining about having another adult human to hold is not good etiquette during the pandemic, when so much is turned on its head already, there are times when so much togetherness just feels…weird!
Here’s a list of the valuable skills (so far) that I suddenly have lots more time to practice:
Learning to give breathing space – i.e. when to come together, when to be apart.
How to understand and express what I need, without blame or self-doubt; and
When to laugh it all off, and dance.
Routines are key, as if we were on a long Buddhist retreat, so we have developed a few. Meditation, dance and yoga in the mornings, writing breaks at tea-time, preferably with elaborate snacks, the occasional game of chess. And meals.
Some time ago a co-worker (back when I had a job) asked me who did the cooking at my house.
“Uh, well,” I stammered, “Neither of us!”
“Huh?” she responded, and then I admitted,
“Neither of us ever had to cook before, really. Our previous partners were gourmet chefs, so the kitchen was out of bounds.”
“So how’s that working out for you now?” she laughed.
“Let’s just say, it’s an adventure!”
And it is. Who knew there were so many meals in a day? A week, a month?
Thank goodness for the garden, but I have to laugh when I look at my crop yield, remembering acres of uniform fruit and vegetables growing in Watsonville, or the produce aisle at Safeway. One zucchini, one squash, one lemon becomes quite precious in my little plot! Fog sidelined the tomatoes, again, though I’ve had luck at last with lettuce, arugula, bok choy, and chard. Another round of delightful sweet peas bloomed, with that delicate, crisp linen scent.
And wonder of wonders, I’ve baked a few loaves of bread, courtesy of my (worried?) sister-in-law, who sent me the world’s easiest no-knead recipe.
One favorite ritual is watching the sunset together, whenever our day evolves in a way that we can. Two nights ago we (I) missed the mark, distracted indoors (probably by a text, miraculous contact with the outside world!) while my husband took in the show.
“You missed the Green Flash.” he scolded.
“No way!” I cried.
“Yep, you did,” he answered. Then he carried on about how special it was. How the green light shot up in a gigantic arc above the sinking sun as it nestled into the faint fog bank at the horizon, how the heavens opened wide above him and the angels sang Hallelujah, and I’d missed it all!
He actually had me going for about an hour, mad at myself, researching the Green Flash on Wikipedia (is it real? Yes it is) etc. Then he confessed he was teasing. Perhaps he was reciprocating for my coaxing the dog into bringing him a dead rat that morning? I wonder.
It may be time to take a trip off the mountain sometime soon.
Thursday, March 19, 2020
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Read that daunting book you’ve had on your shelf for years. For me, it's Old Path, White Clouds, by the beloved Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hanh. Relax a little - eat pasta and ice cream. After that, take a bellydance class via Zoom! Have a kissing marathon with your shelter-in-place companion. Find solace in prayer and meditation.
When we face our fears with as much grace as we can, we become heroes.
He says, “I put my palms together, like a lotus bud, and pray that we all find peace.” May it be so.
Saturday, January 11, 2020
There's a sweet little bird I watch daily here, a Black Phoebe, whose plaintive call, tee-hee, tee-hoo, is punctuated by her action of flying out from her perch, then back to it. She flies out, tee-hee, then flies back, tee-hoo. Pretty goofy, really. Apparently she swoops out to catch insects, then, conserving energy, flies back. It's kind of like what we do each day: we wake up, sit down for coffee, sing out, then go out into the work world to gather necessary insects, um, resources. Then we fly back home. At any rate, I feel like this is what I do, tweet the old-fashioned way, go out into the world, tweet, return home to my perch.
Call it reverse anthropomorphism, seeing our similarities with the world's fragile and precious creatures. I just finished reading The Bees, by Laline Paull. This is some of the most imaginative writing I've read, a complex page-turner told from the point of view of Flora 717, a most daring and inspiring worker bee. The bees' hunger for community and devotion is as great as their lust for nectar; they live in an elaborate hierarchy, but each, from the priestess to the sanitation worker, feels the unconditional love of the Holy Mother.
Winter time brings a level of quiet that is unsurpassed. Strong winds blow away the clouds and the afternoon light falls at an oblique angle on the land. A few days ago, in the early morning, I spotted a devilishly large bobcat strolling up to the woodpile behind my house. Bobcats are the gangsters of the neighborhood, with body-builder shoulders, wide, sly faces, dramatic black fur tips on their ears, and undignified, stubby tails. We both did a double-take, and I said, "You're not my kitty..." She trotted away towards the meadow, and when I followed her I felt her watching me from the edge of the oak forest.
Now the leaves from the maples, sycamores and elms have all fallen, the shoes of the past year have all dropped, the verdict is in on 2019. As the days lengthen slightly, we make resolutions, the jonquils bloom, and it's bar closing time for the Great Horned Owls as they stop hooting and start nesting.
Sensing ineffable impermanence in the stillness of winter on the coast is a gift; it distills into daily life when we interrupt the frantic pace that can consume us. Someday, each of us will "fall off our perch" as they say. May it be in a fulfilled state, a blissful surrender to the light.