As I sit in front of my laptop on this rainy November morning, watching a lone cardinal outside the back door - hopping around, tilting his sleek little crimson head thoughtfully, scavenging for drizzly morsels - I'm thinking back on the year that we've had, reflecting on the many ups and downs, and experiencing a profound sense of gratitude in this moment.
In this moment.
There's something to that. There's something deeply transformative about taking the time to sit quietly in contemplation, being fully present in my environment, putting my attention on my physical surroundings and noticing how I feel. It's like suddenly remembering to take a full and deep breath - after a hundred years of being lost in thought, running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Really feeling the air in my lungs and realizing, as if for the first time, that breath is my life force - the very source of energy that keeps my heart beating and my blood pumping, day in and day out, as I crash around this planet trying to make a difference, striving to do good in this world.
I've never been one for meditating. I've often heard that it's incredibly good for you, that developing a daily meditation practice is a guaranteed path to experiencing peace, healing the body, and reconnecting with your inner spirit.
Sounds really fantastic! I should totally do that! Let me just simply add that to my already busy daily schedule, set aside the time, and magically start reaping the miraculous benefits of this meditation thing everyone is talking about!
But truthfully, most of my sporadic and often feeble attempts over the years to sit quietly with myself and just breathe (really?? that's all you have to do? just sit there and breathe??) have been nearly instantly sabotaged by the formidable ranting and ravings of my restless mind. "Are we there yet? How many minutes has it been? Are you sure we're doing this right? I'm not feeling enlightened."
I've since come to realize that there's a reason it's called a practice.
I can't say that I've really made much progress with the endeavor, but that's why I feel particularly grateful for this brief moment of quiet solitude - a rare occasion where my mind actually stills for a few consecutive seconds, just long enough for me to experience a tantalizing glimpse of what I imagine it's supposed to feel like - a complete and all-consuming perspective shift that, in that moment, reminds me simultaneously of both my life energy and my mortality - my strength and my vulnerability - my individuality and my cosmic connection to all other beings in this vast and mystical universe. Connection to Self. Connection to Higher Power. Connection to All That Is.
And then, as quickly as it emerged, the moment evaporates and is gone. And I'm right back to thinking a thousand thoughts - worrying about that thing I forgot to do yesterday, fretting about that other thing I'm supposed to do tomorrow - overwhelmed by a growing mound of laundry, irritated when I recall that one of my packages showed up missing a part and dreading having to call customer service, anxious imagining so many of my friends and family members spending the holiday alone in their homes and fearing for their wellbeing and mental health, wondering about the future and how things will unfold.
These are the thoughts of daily life, strung together, moment by moment, as time feetingly passes us by. I know the pandemic has been unbelievably challenging and stressful. I know the circumstances of COVID have caused enormous amounts of frustration, hardship, pain, and suffering. And I know that it's a particularly tough blow to be in the midst of another lockdown, this time right in the middle of the holidays, when we would normally all be gathering for meals and making memories together. But there have also been some amazing silver linings appearing - sometimes small, but often significant - opportunities to slow down and reassess priorities, chances to collaborate for the sake of the greater good, and avenues for paradigm shifts and creating new solutions.
I'm thinking of all of you today, and the incredible grit and resilience of the people in our community. I'm so proud of how far we've come together, and of all the amazing things that are still happening in Springfield, even in these strange and crazy times. Each and every one of us matters. And we can change the world together. We ARE changing the world together, each and every day, with the choices we make, and the actions we take - and the way we treat each other. We all have a choice in how we look at things. We can get lost in the sorrow and focus on all the injustices of this life, or we can look for the good in one another and and see all the reasons we are blessed in this life. Today, I choose gratitude. Gratitude and appreciation for all that is in my life, the lessons and the gifts.
My wish for all of you this holiday season is peace and love. Please, take good care of yourselves. Take good care of each other. Love yourself deeply, love your neighbor, and remember that when it really comes down to it, all we really have is this moment. Let's make it a good one!
Wishing you a warm and meaningful Thanksgiving!
Light, love, and laughter,