The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
— Henry D. Thoreau
The natural world can offer us more than the means to survive, on the one hand, or mortal risks to be avoided, on the other: it can offer us joy.
There can be occasions when we suddenly and involuntarily find ourselves loving the natural world with a startling intensity, in a burst of emotion which we may not fully understand, and the only word that seems to me to be appropriate for this feeling is joy.
~ Michael McCarthy, The Moth Snowstorm
It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than two weeks since we returned to the island and the ranch. It feels longer, as if we’ve been here forever. M and I continue to get caught up and settled in with indoor and outdoor chores. Most of the planting we wanted to do is done. We might be a little late getting some of the seeds in the ground, but the growing season here is fairly long so it might work out. Rain, however, is desperately needed. We water, of course, but water from the hose is not the same as rain when it comes to plants growing and thriving. Water from the clouds is what is wanted and needed.
On a trip up to the grocery store recently it was evident that the farmers are wishing for rain, too. The cornfields are parched and cracked, the plants much smaller than they usually are at this point in the growing season.
There is a chance for rain and storms later today. Let’s hope the rain, at least, materializes.
In between the usual chores and the daily living, I’ve been reading a lot. Books, online articles, things I put aside for another day. There are so many words out there. It’s hard to keep up. Here are a couple of good, online reads:
- Finding Time, an article about slowness as an act of resistance by Rebecca Solnit (one of my favorite authors).
- Lines in the Mind, Not in the World by Donella Meadows.
- The Inward Migration in Apocalyptic Times, an Emergence Magazine piece by Alexis Wright.
I picked up the book Aging as a Spiritual Practice by Lewis Richmond and started reading it yesterday. I’m only as far as the first exercise in the first chapter and can already tell it will be a difficult read. It won’t be difficult in terms of writing style. It is well written and doesn’t seem to be a dry read. The difficulty will come in the exercises and practices, in the emotions they bring up. The first exercise, for instance, is about recalling when you first became aware of the fact that you are aging. The author refers to it as Lightning Strikes (as in, “Lightning Strikes in the moment we truly wake up to our aging and can see the full significance of it in our whole life, from its unremembered beginning to its unknown end.”). It is that moment when we see things as they really are. It can be a life changing moment in both positive and negative ways.
For me, the first of those Lightning Strikes moments was when a good friend died in 2016. His death was all tied up in the election of that year (he died just a few days before) which further complicated things. The grief and shock made me feel as if we’d somehow entered a parallel universe. Among the shocks was the reality that someone our age could die. It’s not that we think of ourselves as immortal or that death is impossible, but… maybe we do think that in some way, don’t you think? There is certainly denial, to some degree. Then something happens to remind us not only of our own mortality but also the mortality of those we love. Loss is inevitable.
We expect our elders to die, but our peers? That’s entirely different. There has been more of that over the past year with colleagues, acquaintances, and family members dying. Some of it was pandemic related, some of it was not. Every time we talk with certain family members, the question comes up, “Who died?” because it seems like that’s usually the first news.
Somewhere along the way, I read the phrase that death is a habit of the body and that just as we prepare for the birth of a child, we should prepare for death. I don’t know if I’m ready for that just yet. I figure I’ll start with aging and work my way up. Life (and death) might have other things in mind, but I have to start somewhere. Acceptance of the aging process seems like a good beginning.
There are glad tidings when it comes to aging. My grandchildren have brought such joy into my life. Some relationships have deepened. I feel a little bit wiser than I did in my earlier years. I’m not sure there is truth to that. I hope there is. It would be a damn shame to reach this stage of life and not be slightly more enlightened. The greatest thing I know is that I know very little. Just that is enough to open me up to learning.
It will be interesting to see where Aging as a Spiritual Practice leads me. I already have my eye on death in the form of an online course about it. But, as I mentioned earlier, one thing at a time.
I reckon that’s about it from me and from the Wabi-Sabi Ranch on this scorching hot and humid day. If you’re game and willing to put up with the heat, let’s meet at the Point for sunset. Maybe we’ll get lucky and it will rain while we’re out there. I wouldn’t mind that in the least. Sunset is scheduled for 8:16 PM. The water is warming up and I hear it’s comfortable for swimming now. Bring your swim suit, if you’re so inclined. We missed the full moon last night (and the night before) due to clouds. I’m hoping we might get a glimpse of it tonight if the clouds move through with the rain/storm possibilities.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind. ♥
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,781) Anything that makes me (or any of us) smile. 1,782) Baby bunnies and grumpy chickadees. 1,783) Spotting my first Scarlet Tanager. He was in the trees in the cemetery. 1,784) An evolving art journaling practice thanks to Julie Gibbons’ Mandala Magic: ALIGNMENT course. I stopped taking things literally and I am beginning to create my own symbols. 1,785) Caramel. And chocolate. ♥