“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”
― Mary Oliver, Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays
I discovered the poet Mary Oliver reading the newest autobiography by Diana Nyad. She overcame horrific childhood abuses by proving that she was strong and special as a young woman –to realize with age that she didn’t have to be a special person but live a life that was special. At the age of 60, she decided to swim to Cuba, a life long dream–after not swimming for 30 years as a long distance swimmer.
At the age of 10, she felt life was racing past her. At 60 she knows life is zooming by. She tries to be in the moment, not dwelling in the past or gazing toward the future. So I ask myself, “What will I do with the possible last 20 good years ?” as Mary Oliver asks in the quote in Diana’s book, ‘
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ ‘
During yoga classes at two different studios, the teachers said, “Think about what your are doing right and focus on that aspect of life which is positive and move toward it.”
So I want to do More of the good things. More prayer, meditation, service. More exercise. More time with friends. More time reading. More time with family even if it means less international travel destinations. More time learning –to speak French, play the piano, and cook new things. I watched the Holiday Baking Show and realized that I didn’t know know of the items the bakers were making. More time laughing and having fun and enjoying my blessings.
I didn’t post a word for 2015. If I did, it would have been “Good Bye”. Good bye to my mom in February. Her health rapidly declined since the summer of 2014 and she died February 4th. Good bye to my daughters moving during the summer to new homes and careers on each coast. But good byes can be also the results of hellos and positive changes.
2015 was hello to long time friends and family. I said hello again to my best friend when I was 15 and the years fell away. Hello to friends from college visiting after we both raised our families since the last visit. Hello to health for a young family friend that battle cancer earlier in the summer. Hello to visiting the National Parks in the SW. Hello to sharing island life on Kauai with a friend from home. And good bye to living with an adult child room mate and hello to being an empty nester and the next phase of my life.
Most people know the first two laws of Thermodynamics even if they never set foot in a chemistry lab in high school because of the use in popular culture. Energy is never created nor destroyed and the universe grows more random. The second one is often paraphrased as “Nature abhors a vacuum”. In chemistry, a gas will expand to fill a space. Water will flow down hill, fires will spread.
Anyone trying to downsize and organize, or even just organize is fighting this law and using energy to do it. When space was opened when an adult child left home, it became filled with items that were stored elsewhere. I realized that guests, including returning family, couldn’t use the drawers to put items for use while they stayed. Displacing one object means removing another, the chain continues. And then add the dimension of “temporary storage” for people no longer living in the home. The item is wanted but no room for it in current living situation. Or maybe needed if a life situation changes. Time to create more cellular energy by eating lunch…
I recently read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book, Gift from the Sea. If you haven’t read it, she goes to her sister’s beach home and writes about life’s transitions. I am not longer part of the sandwich generations. My aging parents and in-laws have died, the estates are settled. My well educated and accomplished offspring have found positions in their careers and have or will be establishing their own households. Ironically the household items that have been moved across states that were part of their inheritance, have no place in the current new domiciles. Neither do childhood beanie babies, troll dolls or prom dresses.
I have a strong need to organize and clean my environment which finds me moving items to locate others, groaning inward when something needed is lost in the detritus of my life.
I long to be free, bouncing across oceans like a float no longer tethered to a Japanese fishing net coming to rest in the cold sands of the Pacific Northwest. I can live for weeks out of a small suitcase when exploring new countries but anchored at home. A thoughtful gift last Christmas was the best seller, “The Art of Tidying Up” which I will revisit soon. The cooler and shorter days arrive with the heaven sent rains, extinguishing the fires of late summer. I will organize both my inner and outer environment to be able to float on the waves of life.
Nun behind the walls of the Carmel of the Holy Trinity Convent
Last night I heard the bells loudly ringing from the Carmelite Convent. The Order moved from New Jersey to build a convent in Spokane Valley. They ring their bell softly for call to prayer because of the neighbors surrounding the convent. I sometimes hear the bell on a summer morning when my bedroom window is open. The community is still slowing rising. Normally they are drowned out by the diesel truck warming up, dogs barking at people walking dogs before work, and high school students talking on their way to school. I am transported to being in a small town in the Tuscan hills.
Last night, just before 10 P.M. they were raucous. I thought at first, “Were the sisters in danger and trying to alert the community?” But then I thought, “Even if they don’t have a cell phone, they must have a way to summon help if someone was invading their privacy or safety.”
I read this morning the Raul Castro met with Pope Francis yesterday and was so impressed that he said, “The Pope and I are both Jesuits. I will start going back to church.” After 50 years of Communist persecution of Catholics, I understand why the sisters were ringing their bell with joy last night to share the news with the community, the only way available for a community of cloistered sisters!