Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well, can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.
~ Pema Chodron
The early Greeks defined presence as the fundamental characteristic of being alive.
I believe it is not easy for any of us to be fully present, and that we settle for shadows and glimpses, for fleeting moments that sift through our hands and are gone. We may become clouded from impinging distractions as we are carried into countless pressures, anxieties, and demands; or else we try to escape through the many abundant and tempting means at our disposal; or we seek to overpower obstacles through adrenalin-driven pursuits, or with our intellects, determination, and skillful maneuvers, or by other strengths and capabilities, continually striving for something out of reach, or once attained, soon abandoned, while we silently lack what we most want.
As flawed human beings, it can be difficult to see beyond ourselves and understand each other intimately and compassionately. Being hampered by our limitations and the context of our past experience (or inexperience), we can be blind to each other even when we don’t want to be. Our failings can also blind us to ourselves, preventing us from reaching a deeper understanding below the surface of self-awareness.
~ John Justin David, from Parabola, October 26, 2020
What strange times we live in. It’s as if we’re always approaching a threshold to a doorway, and we have no idea what’s on the other side. On this side we have a pandemic and the exposed man behind the curtain disseminating distractions and chaos, if we choose to engage. It IS a choice, but I think we need a little bit of awareness to recognize it as such. On the other side, who knows? I think there is only one certainty in life and that’s uncertainty. We never really know. I do have some hope that whatever is on the other side might be at least a little bit better.
I made the choice to turn off the machine of smoke and mirrors for a little while, and take myself outside where Mother Nature’s version of reality is much more beautiful, even if she does broadcast her own version of smoke and mirrors in the form of autumn fogs and mists. It should be noted that she, too, has a dark side, and I see that as well. I find bones, feathers, and even the occasional body. Yesterday, I found one of the yellow-rumped warblers lying on the ground with no obvious signs of what had killed it.
There has been a lot of talk among the people in the (online) groups I hang out in about processing the fact that over 70 million people voted for the loser, and what that might mean. Some see it as a betrayal. I know that feeling from 2016. I felt it then, but not so much now. I was not expecting the base to suddenly de-base themselves (there might be the possibility of a pun in there somewhere). They’ve gone as low as they can go, in my opinion. I want to be compassionate. Truly, I do. But I find it difficult to open my heart anymore to people who want to stomp on it. I spent the past four years trying to be open and understanding in discussions concerning the why’s of supporting that guy whose name I don’t want to use. I have sometimes thought I should start there, with the loser. Find some compassion in my heart for him. Even a teeny tiny bit. There have been times I almost manage it. My halo fitting and elevation to sainthood are not going to happen. I can’t quite get there.
Ah well. I’m at it again. Speculating and percolating and trying to figure things out. Let’s take a walk in the woods instead. I went out to the Milburn Landing side of Pocomoke River State Park on Monday to see what autumn has been up to lately. A refresher about the park: It stretches out on both sides of the Pocomoke River. There is Shad Landing on the south bank of the river and Milburn Landing on the north bank. The Milburn Landing side is a little more wild. Actually, a lot more wild. The Algonquin Cross Country Trail was a little overgrown in spots, with fallen trees blocking the way. The pandemic has made it difficult for the people who maintain the trails to stay on top of things. The rainy weather during the summer probably didn’t help.
I took a picnic lunch with me. I’ve been getting into wraps lately, instead of the usual sandwiches. For Monday’s outing, it was a chickpea salad with a bunch of veggies (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, that sort of thing) and a good helping of olive salad, the kind they use on muffalettas. It was super yummy. I make the chickpea salad in a way that is similar to how I used to make chicken or tuna salad for sandwiches. Mayo and celery to start. Then I add capers, some Dijon mustard, and a little lemon juice. Sometimes onions. Or pickles. I’ve been thinking about making a version that’s similar to a curried chicken salad I once had at a restaurant in Annapolis (Maryland). I would use my favorite Jamaican curry powder and add chopped apples instead of capers. I’m going to do that next time.
It was relatively quiet out in the woods. I saw another couple, going in the opposite direction, and surprisingly, wearing masks. A little while later there were a couple of young women on horses riding by, also going in the opposite direction. When I went out to where the picnic tables are, by the river, I noticed there were campers in the campground. The picnic area and playground were empty. It was a beautiful day to sit by the river.
I have a ton of photos from my hike, and maybe I’ll get around to sharing more of them. The ideal thing, I’m thinking, is to put down my camera for a while and start sharing the past two months worth of photos that are sitting here waiting for me to sort through them. One of these days, I might do that.
For now, I have something else I wish to show you. We had some excitement here on the ranch yesterday. It was a dark, dreary, rainy day. A cold front was moving through. It’s possible some of the rain belonged to Eta, the drunken tropical storm/hurricane/tropical storm that moved around in the Gulf of Mexico for a while. (If you followed Eta’s path, you’ll know why I used the word “drunken.”) Even on dark and dreary and rainy days, I go for walks. M was out on his walk in the late afternoon when he called me to come out and “bring the camera!” We have a new resident in the pole barn.
It’s an Eastern Screech Owl. It was perched on the top of the rolled-up canopy on M’s boat when we saw it yesterday. They live in this area year-round, and eat quite a variety of animals and insects, including other birds (and rarely, they can be cannibalistic). This is the first time I have seen one in the wild. I’ve seen a few at bird rescue facilities. They’re relatively small (about the size of a robin or European starling) and stocky. This one looks a little cross-eyed to me, but maybe that was the weird angle. It was hard to get a good photo of it since it was tucked in between the canopy and the roof of the pole barn.
I had a Zoom chat with one of our fellow bloggers this morning. I was so excited to finally meet Dawn and talk with her. I got to meet Princess Katie, too, although she didn’t seem too impressed with me or with Zoom. It was awesome to hear and see Dawn, and to be able to just sit and talk the way we would if we met up for coffee or tea or a hike.
If anyone else would be interested in meeting up via Zoom, let me know and we’ll see if we can arrange something. It is, as I’ve mentioned in the past, easier for me in the early morning (before 8 AM, Eastern Time) because of my limited (and crappy, but I’m grateful for it anyway) internet service. Weather plays a role, too. I had to cancel my Zoom play date with the Little Wookie yesterday because of the rain and heavy cloud cover. Satellite internet doesn’t work too well under those conditions. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Whatever the time of day, I’m sure we can work something out. It would be nice to get a group together so we can isolate together and perhaps meet once a month or so, just to chat.
Thank you so much for visiting with me today. They say the rain is going to move out and the sky will clear sometime this afternoon. Let’s meet at the Point for sunset. Sometimes our best sunsets happen after a front or storm has moved through. Sunset is scheduled for 4:52 PM. It is chilly today. You’ll probably need a coat and a hat. Boots aren’t a bad idea, either. We had nearly over 3 inches of rain yesterday. It’s pretty sloshy out there.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind.
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,601) An owl living in the pole barn. 1,602) Hunting season. I would not like to witness the killing, but I know it’s necessary. The deer herd needs to be culled (there are far too many of them now). Humans are the only predators here, and I know that the people in this area who hunt do so to put food on their table. 1,603) The colors of sunrise and sunset that play on the grasses. 1,604) Breaks from the news. I know I can’t hide my head in the sand forever, but it does feel good to take a break from the drama every now and then. 1,605) Chatting with a friend on Zoom.