The more aware and observant we become; the more we sense our feelings in our bodies, rather than our minds; the more curious we become about what’s actually happening, as opposed to reacting automatically according to our default patterns and fears — the more at ease we become. The more room we create. The more time we have to listen before we respond. We can look to see, what’s good here? What’s a way in which I can be helpful?
When we look to see what’s really going on, we learn so much!
My friend Maria quoted from this poem in meditation class some months ago. Every so often I listen to a recording and to the sweet, wry, hopeful words of the poet, and I remind myself that it’s fine to just… let go.
Today when I went for my afternoon walk, it was later than usual. I could have heeded the little voice in my head saying, It’s late… you could just skip it… But I didn’t, and went out into the warm early evening, along the sidewalk dotted with brilliant sugar maple leaves, my heart full of joy… at being alive!
Being alive is not something you take for granted when you’ve had a couple of life-threatening scares. It’s the silver lining of scary experiences. And it turns out that it’s quite marvelous, one might also say worth it, when your default mode is one of gratitude. Gratitude is a magical frame of mind that can eclipse almost every other. If you feel sad, gratitude can bring you to contentment. If you feel cranky, gratitude can bring you to… contentment! Come to think of it, gratitude is the essence of my daily walks; letting go all thoughts and worries, letting stresses flow off my mind and body like water, and simply being present and grateful for all I see. Delicious!
As we know, life’s challenges can quickly overwhelm. A diagnosis. A disaster, natural or manmade. A death. A divorce. (Now I’m just getting tickled by how many “D’s” for disasters there are.) You get the picture.
We know so well the clenched stomach, the tensed jaw, the fierce inner focus, the search for solutions. There’s got to be a way, an answer, some logical plan. But… what if there’s not?
A reminder for those of you who know about it, and an epiphany for those who don’t: It’s the time of year for Magic Mineral Broth!
This time of year, with colds and flu swirling about, I feel naked without it. And that’s a simple problem to fix. A trip to the farm market or grocery store for a sack full of everything on the list—sweet potatoes, red-skinned potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, leeks, parsley, garlic, a strip of kombu—a few minutes to wash, roughly chop and toss into the pot—several hours of cozy reading time while the broth simmers and the kitchen fills with a rich, savory aroma—and you’re good to go. One recipe makes quite a lot of broth, and it’s easy to freeze in quart mason jars for those moments when you need a mineral-rich pick-me-up. My kind of health insurance.
“Maintain buoyancy” was a favorite expression of my friend Sharon’s father.
I love it. I love the way it feels.
Certainly we all have plenty of opportunity to reference it, as we face life’s ups and downs. In Buddhist practice we say, “This,” holding out one palm, “and this,” holding out the other. The dark and the light. It’s not personal; it’s the human condition. C’est la vie.