“Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.”
Mary Oliver, “Today”, A Thousand Mornings
Today’s rain has been a bit of an unexpected gift. It is the kind of rain that speaks in moderate and peaceful tones while also breathing a whisper of the storms arriving soon. Branches move gently as raindrops greet their leaves, making them momentarily heavy, then light again as the weight rolls away, absorbed by the ground below. The birds have retreated from play, calling truce in their bid to outsmart the dog in the daily territorial skirmish of the backyard. And the skies above, a blanket of solid gray, offer a bit of shelter from the sun’s brilliance, as if to say, wait, you don’t have to be busy; trust that you can pause, be still, and breathe (with intention)…as if to say, here is your reason to take care of yourself, watch–the world will still spin without your effort…as if the weather, or something greater, knows we all need this permission sometimes.
Pausing grants presence that repetitive, exhaustive persistence cannot (a thing I may have just now truly appreciated). Today, I didn’t have to remind myself to seek gratitude, it just sort of puddled up around me because my surroundings weren’t a blur on the sidelines of my self imposed daily race. My surroundings and I, well, we were moving at the same pace. The grace granted in this slow down allowed me to see and be grateful for my present in real time, rather than only the future I am typically working to achieve or the past that has brought me to this place. And I realized how often I forget to see the moment I am in rather than the next one which keeps me from a fully cognizant gratitude stance. And I think too often allows me to focus on the frustrations of my health which flood my present as they impede my progress toward tomorrow and don’t look like the me of former years. When I am centered there, when those frustrations are my only present moment, then there isn’t much (or so it seems) to be grateful for today. I’ve become really good at embellishing and believing that lie. Except today, even with a pretty cruel vestibular migraine that has been ebbing and flowing for over a week–a thief of a holiday I have been so enthusiastically awaiting, I could see beyond the easy bait of the singular story of that present to a richer more complex and joyful one. I could see a story more reflective of my whole truth, rather than just my illness or my grief over it. I could see (again) that I am more than those things–every single day…my story is composed of so much more than that. And it was because I was actually living in my present, looking straight on, rather than behind or ahead, that I was able to do so.
Today’s rain is temporary, transient (ending as I finish this blog). The pause is but a moment. Tomorrow I will splash through the remaining puddles as I speed toward the end of one to-do list and to the start of the next. It is just that time of year. But in the midst of that movement, may the splash of the puddles be a bit of a reminder, a baptism offering new sight of a more complete technicolor today. A vision of the present that sees the hues of shade and shadow, but also takes in the brighter threads of joy and goodness I can so easily overlook. An accepting vision of the present not skewed by what used to be, what should be, what will be. A moment to hold what is as it is because in a breath, a flicker, that moment will also change. And to miss the truth of today would hold greater sadness than all the regret I can muster in what I imagine to be missing already.
Today, I am grateful for being granted a moment to revise my stance on stillness–it is not just something for me to remind others to seek, but it is mandatory for me to create for myself too.
I am good with today in that way.
(a good poem for a day like this…“birth-day” by Lucille Clifton)