I wrote in my last post about cultivating some balance in our lives, and how our steady progression toward the end of summer might assist that goal. Returning from vacation to work this week, that balance seems elusive.
It’s not just the grind of returning to the day job, but meetings after work every evening this week to address needs related to my civic commitments. I serve our local community as a Village trustee and also as a trustee at our local community library, and I believe strongly at this point in my life in putting some effort into helping to keep our village as that place that first attracted us to live here…so while tired and off-balance toward the end of this week, it’s all worth it, all toward the right ends.
Plus…to cap the week off…
Our oldest daughter turns 13 today.
She was born at 9am, and I’ll never forget holding her and looking deep into her wide eyes that first night, when she was 12 hours old, while my wife slept soundly, getting some needed rest.
Not yet a day old, she lay wrapped in a blanket in my arms, hiccuping and looking back at me. I had the profound, mystical feeling that there was wisdom behind those eyes, that she knew things I couldn’t know. I held her there for quite some time, not wanting to let go of that moment with her new life in my hands.
I tell her this story every year around her birthday, as I want her to grow up knowing the impact she had on me that first night. Right now, she lays in the bottom bunk (with her sister in the top) in the room behind me, having slept away her 12-hood, soon to wake up as a teenager.
There have been, and will be many more, times when ‘wisdom’ is the furthest word from my mind to associate with some of her actions or behaviors (or her sister’s), but the memory and the impact of that first night persists. And whether or not she really knew unknowable things that first night, she and her sister have taught me so much…
So we’ll move through the work days and the birthday festivities today and Friday, remaining joyfully off-kilter, and will look to rebalance over the holiday weekend…
Sitting beside a body of water at sunset has a way of putting things in perfect perspective. Doing so with kids around magnifies that by 10x or so.
Sometimes we adults think we have it together. We’ve got it all figured out. Planning, projecting, we control our destinies, we OWN our careers. We make things happen.
Then come those times when we realize – no, make that remember, because it’s buried there in each of us – in a crystalline instant, that it’s all about the joy of the present moment – even if that clarity is fleeting, the memory of it remains, to be applied within.
I snuck out and caught you this morning, Betelgeuse.
Yes, I was drawn out by brilliant Venus, backed up by regal Jupiter in the early twilight. But I saw your orange shimmer down close to the horizon, about to be veiled in the rising sun’s radiance, like you were peering through the crack of an open door.
Every mid-August I look forward to the appearance of Orion in the morning sky. He brings the promise of cool fall weather and I think ahead to him riding high above in the dome of a crystalline winter night sky.
For now it’s still July, and at 6am the new daylight streaks across the east and north; it will be warm again today and summer still dominates our attention but look closely – our days are noticeably shorter, evidence that the grand wheel spins. Betelgeuse sneaks into the early morning sky affirming that change is afoot, letting Orion know that the coast will be clear in another fortnight.
Glorious, how we roll.
Finally some rain today in the midst of our great
midwestern American drought of 2012 – and just like that I have grass to mow again, not that I’m complaining. Through one window to my left I see a patch of lawn and garden beginning to look alive again.
To my right are our ladies talking to each other as they compete in a video game.
Here in the middle is me, the watcher watching both directions, noting the grass revive to the left and wondering at the people our girls are becoming on my right. Beauty on all sides, and I’m thankful, thankful.
So much about the passage through this world is perspective, and the journey of learning a slower, more mindful approach has rewards obvious and subtle. Of course the obvious ones are clear, but the subtle ones make themselves known only through hints, and not unidirectionally; they may briefly appear and then withdraw. Simple, stupid examples might include just recognizing there’s an option to leave the radio off during the drive home and finding the mind more chatter-free and attentive for home re-entry; or taking a moment to focus on the breath during stressed intervals and finding upon careful observation that calming really does come, leaving some openness to work within where there was just tension.
I’m learning slowly through experience from yoga practice that the body really is an extension and an instrument of the mind (and vice versa, I guess?), and experiencing the first subtle signs that creating openness and fluidity in the body does manifest as improved openness and fluidity in the mind. Trust me, I’ve been a brittle stick from years of running, cycling and no-stretching, so I am not that willowy ideal yoga practitioner. And it’s funny to see revealed the ways in which the brittle stick body corresponds with the brittle stick mind; sometimes through brittle breath, or through brittle will, brittle emotions.
Working to open one opens the other, and it’s a fascinating journey indeed.