Wonder-ful!

“Never question the truth of what you fail to understand, for the world is filled with wonders.”―L. Frank Baum author of the “Oz” series

A sense of wonder has such a child-like characteristic to it, the very word evokes a vision of wide eyes, large smiles, standing on tip-toe, holding one’s breath.  How often as adults do we tap into our sense of wonder?  Wonder is magical and we become too jaded to experience that sense with any regularity.  Caught up in the adult sense of “knowing” we begin to lose the openness and sheer joy that comes from experiencing wonder.

I recently read an article about extremophiles.  Upon seeing the word I assumed it was about people who love the extreme; ones who would be good at reality television shows jumping off tall buildings onto a pile of pillows.  But no, it is a class of organisms that live in the extremes of heat, cold and pressure where it was previously thought no life forms could exist.  Digging deeper into the story, it describes an organism that has lived in a gas bubble in a crystal, and the crystal was fifty MILLION years old!  The organism apparently had not developed any way to divide or reproduce because it did not need to.  I continued to read filled with wonder.  The upshot of the article was we are discovering an entire new classification of life here on this planet; the obvious usefulness of which is to guide us to look for life in places we believed it could not exist here or on any other planet.

To understand how and why these creatures came into existence is far beyond my grasp, but I do not deny the truth of their being.  I am filled with awe and wonder at the things that are in our very midst and we are ignorant of their presence until someone with imagination and courage finds them.  The world outside and within is teeming with the undiscovered and when we allow ourselves the freedom of the wonder of it all, we become open to the great mysteries and excitement of life.

Opening up to that which strikes us as unlikely if not impossible with an inquiring mind and a receptive heart creates an entirely new space to grow oneself.  Tapping back into the sense of amazement at the world around us with a joyful sense of discovery feeds one’s creativity, imagination and freshens the perceptions of all that one believes and knows.

Let yourself believe for a moment in the magical, reclaim your sense of wonder, rediscover delight.

What Remains?

“All natural goods perish. Riches take wings; fame is a breath; love is a cheat; youth and health and pleasure vanish.”  William James

These words could be construed as the mutterings of a bitter old man, with a purely naturalistic view of life.  They are, when taken in the context of “The Varieties of Religious Experience”, presented as an example of the “sick soul”, a soul that cannot find the ease of living, forever searching and striving to discover some value, some greater worth than that which one possesses.  In the same piece James quotes Edward Everett Hale, “I can remember perfectly that when I was coming to manhood, the half-philosophical novels of the time had a deal to say about the young men and maidens who were facing ‘the problem of life.’ I had no idea whatever what the problem of life was. To live with all my might seemed to me easy; to learn where there was so much to learn seemed pleasant and almost of course; to lend a hand, if one had a chance, natural; and if one did this, why, he enjoyed life because he could not help it, and without proving to himself that he ought to enjoy it…”, as an example of what James calls the healthy-minded.  He acknowledges that there are degrees of healthy-mindedness and sickness of soul; and concludes that the sick soul has the more overlapping perceptions of reality.

Does this mean then that we should turn away from greater happiness, that we give up on the hope for a joyful existence to live a “real” life?  There is room in the mix for a respectful acknowledgement of evil, sadness, fear, loss, and all the elements the “sick soul” tends to dwell upon, without becoming consumed with the “problem of life”.  When it seems that all in life has the potential to eventually fade away, what is it that we might hold on to in the face of the inevitable loss?

When indeed all the material is gone, youth and health have fled, we are left with memories.  The memories of a lifetime of choices and chances taken; of seizing the moment to run free, making time for the joyous bounding adventures.  Memories of the people we have known, those we have helped and who have helped us; memories of tenderness, kindness and expressions of love.  Our fully integrated self has stored these and more in our bodies as well as our minds, and until both completely fail we retain the ability to remember, not just thoughts, but emotions and the physical sensations of those cherished moments.

As we are mindful today, we are filling the storehouse of our bodies and souls with the thing that lingers; that which holds far greater value than the car driven, the title or letters following names, the balance in the bank.  Let the thing that lingers fill our vessel with the sweetness and the treasures of a celebratory life.

Too Much

“I must learn to love the fool in me the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries”  Theodore Isaac Rubin

I have been told by others from time to time that I am too much.  Too intense, too demanding, too something.  We all may have an overabundence of a particular trait that we frame in the negative.  As we go about the business of choosing what our life will look like, would we really choose to diminish ourselves?

Embracing who we are in all of our extremes is a challenge at times; humor helps I think.  When I find myself running off at the mouth, I inwardly laugh and think,  “there I go again”.  It is a harmless acknowledgement of the otherwise negative,” I talk too much”.  People with large personalities are a vital ingredient in the soup of life.  The flamboyant, the enthusiastic, the highly charged, highly motivated introduce big ideas, inspire us to loftier thought and action if we do not allow ourselves to be intimidated and overwhelmed by their very presence.  And if we are one of the bigger than life personae in one manner or topic, we owe it to ourselves and the grand mix not to scale back, tone it down, shut it off at the source.

It is not the “fool in me” that needs love, it is the message of too much that we need to reframe.  If we are not one who loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, laughs and cries; are we fully human?  We are not fools to have a full range of emotion, the ability to err and fail, we are merely the less than perfect beings among an entire sea of beings all imperfect in their own ways.  There is joy to be found in embracing our quirks, laughing at our foibles, loving all the ingredients that make us unique; accepting our humanness.

Silence

After the roaring windstorm of yesterday afternoon, this morning there is a steady light snow that muffles any sound.  The birds are tucked away keeping warm, and the deer move quietly as they browse for breakfast.

Either my mood matches the day or my spirit is one with the world outside my door, but today is a quiet day for me as well.  One of the things I love most about living here is the silence.  There are times when the house is so quiet that I can hear the ticking of the stovepipe warming and cooling.  When I step outside the only sound is the slight crunch under foot with each step.  It is not just the lack of sound but the stillness solid as the mountains rising up behind me. There is such serenity in silence, the deep quiet of the woods translates to a deep quietness in my soul.

This is a piece of the puzzle I have not appreciated enough, I think.  Feeling joy, elation, excitement, enthusiasm, all have great value in the inner life of a truly happy person; but the deep resonations of a quietude are the fine covering overlaying the joyful noise that allow me to appreciate all moments and incorporate each into a way of being.  Silence is more soothing than the gentlest lullaby.  Today I will cherish the silence.

It’s A Riot

Of birdsong that is!

Last spring I was so lost in the gray days that seemed to stretch on forever that I would just look outside in the morning, sigh, and prepare for another nothing day.  But choosing happiness, I look out at the gray day, step outside and tune in to the natural world.  The birds are returning at a furious rate and the songs have gone from a symphony to a battle of the bands.  Stepping out on the deck I breathe in the cool mountain air, laugh at the cacophony and allow myself to feel the world around me reawakening.

A benefit of blogging is being able to compose on the computer, rather than in notebooks, which has been my customary practice.  I still keep a journal at hand when I am reading just to jot down quotes or ideas that strike me, but I am able to move to the computer and do the real work here.  As a result I am continuing to refine my workspace and bring together the items that allow my creativity to flow on to paper.  This has been such a fun and exciting process, it keeps me focused on my goals and I look forward to the time I can spend on my projects.

Today is my WordPress class at the library, hopefully I can get some tips on making this blog more interesting and connected with the rest of the blogosphere.  If not, I will run home and sign up for the adult education classes offered this spring.

Words to focus on today: mindfulness, joy, learning

Excavation

Sometimes in the course of trying to find happiness, one stumbles upon a deep unhappiness that should be unearthed, dusted off, and given a good look.  Even though we can choose our conscious state of happiness, at times our sub-conscious is just not ready to let go of a particular unhappiness.  For many, that unhappiness appears in dreams that can leave one troubled upon waking.  It is by its nature not a pleasant undertaking to really examine an unhappiness, but in the end, if one can come to some sort of peace or at least a truce, there is greater room for true happiness to reside in the sub-conscious as well.

Since today is a day of tackling nagging tasks, I might as well add examining the unhappiness.  To balance my day and not tip it into the rather depressing exercise it could become, I will spend time outside doing physical work on this bright, sunny still day.  With balance, I hope to put my unhappiness items in perspective and look at them in a way that leads me back to my chosen path. After all, how can I not look out on this bright sunny morning and not feel joy?

Delicious Indulgence

The ability to jump on a creative moment or thought as it arises is something I am so grateful for at this time in my life.  Without the demands of job, family or chores, I can take advantage of those moments of inspiration.  Yesterday as I was cleaning up after a full day of “loose ends” and the image of a photograph of a friend kept coming to mind.  Before I knew it the words of an original children’s story began to form.  In the twenty minutes that I had I quickly dashed to the computer and began typing furiously.  Six hundred words later, I was off to a good start, capturing the tone and pace of the story.  I envision the illustrations as paintings of the photos that inspired the story.  I have never even considered writing a children’s story, but after years of reading them aloud and encouraging the young readers in my family to love books, it seemed like completing a loving circle.

Today will be more loose ends, and organizing my writing projects to pair with my books of the moment.  In the area of paying it forward I left a comment for a poster on Gretchen Rubin’s Facebook page on her concerns about downsizing to a smaller living space.  I related my better than best experience of moving to my “Hobbit House” and the joy of being surrounded by only my most favorite things.  I hope it encourages her to make this change a chance to weed out the extraneous and surround herself with her treasures.

It is a clear and therefore cold early March morning in the beautiful Bitterroot, I will also be mindful to spend some part of the day outdoors to soak up the beauty and tranqility in the place I am privlidged to find myself.

Grabbing Joy

Sunday I planned to spend the day shopping, one of my less favorite activities.  But we had our first day of the year of temperatures in the 50’s and it seemed too fine a day to spend in a car or a big box store.  Instead I enjoyed my morning coffee watching the sunrise and the day warm as the birds made their presence known, sounding as joyous as I felt.  I was able to wander around the property looking to see what the melting snow had uncovered and feeling the soil soften under my feet.

Just before dusk as I was heading in I heard a rustle in the grass and turned to find the biggest flock of wild turkeys I had seen so far.  My best estimate, counting turkeys on the move being what it is, was at least sixty.  Although they are a less attractive bird from a distance, up close their feathers are iridescent and catch the sun as they scurry along.  Another sight I would have missed.

Seeking out moments of joy, even if it means a change of plans to soak up an unexpected opportunity can not only offer the immediate pleasure, but a happiness boost (now that is something they need to offer at Jamba Juice!), every time that I  recall the experience.  Just now thinking about turning around to see the flock come trooping out of the trees makes me smile.

Today I will turn my mindfulness to finding a sight or sound I can savor, even as I am shopping for the mundane.