My beloved niece, Marj the Wise, is doing a thing on Facebook. She’s committed to finding something to be grateful for each day, for an entire year. Why? To retrain her thought patterns, to break the hold negativity had on her (though I confess, I always thought she had a wonderful attitude about everything). Some days are harder than others to do this. A couple of times, all she’s been able to find to be grateful for is that the day is over, or that no major disasters struck. We all know how that feels.
But do I know how to be grateful every day, no matter what? Hell no. I am learning, watching this very old soul in this very young body move through life with the grace of a dancer and the strength of a wrestler. She teaches me well, this niece who wears wisdom like a sari.
I am learning to look at the small things, rather than the absence of big things. I’m learning to look at the dandelions that are overtaking my yard (I’m not physically able to do yard work at this point) and instead of seeing weeds, see them as flowers. Bright yellow blooms that open in the morning sun and close in the evening shadows. Or puffs of wishes to take root and grow, troubles to huff away on a breath, no more substantial than fluff.
I am learning to take note afresh of the wonder of words, of language, of the fact that we aren’t trapped inside the prisons of our own skulls but can communicate with one another. The more I learn, the more amazed I am at the human brain with its ability to turn squiggly ink splotches on paper (or shapes on a screen) into pictures in my head, into worlds I can live in. Language, the very existence of such a thing, is almost enough to make me believe in divine generosity. Almost.
I am learning in this very dry climate I’ve moved to, to appreciate the beauty of water, and the life force it is. The sun, the aridity sucks the moisture right out of you out here. When I forget, nor neglect, to hydrate, I feel exhausted, depressed, even ill. The scent of water draws me, and I want to do more than drink: I want to submerge, no, to merge with it, to take it in through every part of me and become one with it. In the South, I shrugged water off. In the West, I yearn for it.
I am learning to revel in solitude. Living on my own isn’t easy in many ways. It’s stretched me, twisted me, tied me in knots … but it’s also given me freedom, allowed me room to try on the costumes of identity, to determine who I am when the lights are out. You know what? I’m all right. I’ve got some quirks — won’t even call them flaws anymore — but I’m all right. That’s a completely new sensation for me, and an unexpected benefit of this move. I’d expected to enjoy the freedom, but not to find that Su’s kinda fun to hang around with. Knowing that, feeling it to the bone, brings a depth of peace that’s untwisting and unknotting me.
I love the small things. I love my life here, maybe even myself.