I’m participating in Sharon Salzberg’s 28-Day Real Happiness Meditation Challenge again this year, and my plan for this blog series is to write a poem or reflection on each day’s practice. You can find all the responses on the landing page.
Today, concidentally, was a day filled with positive emotions really.
I woke up to sun shining in the windows. The cat squirmed around like a worm, wiggling back and forth, on the carpet in the sunny spot that shone through the window. His joy and contentment translated itself to me.
I checked in with my sister, currently in hospital after a scary episode awaiting a procedure tomorrow. It felt good to connect. We connected throughout the day, including when she asked me to interpret a lab report and one of my doctor friends helped me with it via email, which felt so satisfying, to feel this subtle connection between the two of them, mediated by me.
I made something satisfying and tasty for breakfast and enjoyed eating it and drinking jasmine tea while doing my ordinary things: perusing email, looking for my calendar, checking Instgram, doing a word puzzle or two. I felt interested, curious, grateful, stimulated, calm. I recognise that all this could be (and one day, will be) otherwise.
I participated online in a weekly permaculture meeting with good friends, some of whom I’ve known for 11 or 12 years. I felt connected, a sense of belonging. Even though I didn’t tell them then about my concerns for my sister’s situation (I emailed later), I felt supported emotionally.
I visited for two hours with a homebound friend, bringing food I’d cooked for her last night. I heated her food, made her a hot drink, made myself and my husband tea. I felt useful. She really liked the food, and that pleased me. Talking with her, hearing her many stories, some for the 10th time and some for the first time, I felt amused, happy, connected, safe, valued. We laughed a lot, even though this is a very uncertain time for her, in many ways a season of real loss. I located her cat sleeping on a bed in a back room and felt relieved and calmer to have found her there. When her daughter came home with photos of a place my friend might be moving, I felt happy (and sad) for my friend and her daughter, and very interested in the images and design of the place. I was grateful to my husband for accompanying me on the visit.
I got the mail, and in it was a beautiful card thanking me for participating in a farmstand CSA. It made my heart flower to see the plants, the colours, the happy scene of abundance that she drew. (That’s the photo at the top of the screen.)
I worked out for an hour and felt my strength, my power, my resiliency. I felt capable and energized, rejuvenated, a feeling of accomplishment. I’ve done this same workout, taped from TV on a VHS tape, for over 25 years, and the people who demonstrate the moves feel like family to me by now, though they’re not at all. I know exactly what they’re going to say. In such an uncertain and volatile world, there is a perhaps false but nonetheless palpable comfort in that predictabilty, that certainty, year in, year out. I guess it’s why I also like to re-watch old movies and some old TV shows.
I made dinner, something comforting and (semi)healthy, and I got a thrill from eating it. I appreciated the taste and ritual of the red wine I drank with it, too. My husband and I watched a couple of HGTV “House Hunter” shows we’d recorded recently — the people, relationships, houses and apartments, landscapes, and international cultures provoke my curiosity, wanderlust, and wonder.
After dinner, we Zoomed with my close college friends in Baltimore (well, they were in Silver Spring tonight). I had a lot to update them on, so I was talking fast and excitedly, and I wanted to hear about some things they’d done recently, too, and it was all sort of whirlwind in the time allotted (due to my needs) and also lively, vibrant, fulfilling. I felt accepted even in my over-stimulated state and even with my time restrictions tonight. I wished I could be there in person, but being together virtually felt like enough. I had a sort of “high” feeling when we ended the Zoom call, from connecting with and feeling supported by people I’ve known and loved for almost 45 years. And I appreciate that my husband connects with them, too. I’m not sure there is any more “pleasant emotion” for me than the mix of emotions I get when my friends, people I love, connect with each other and form ongoing, durable bonds.
What’s interesting to me as I review my day is that I spent almost no time outside (and it got as warm at 50F today!), or even looking outside. I did see a male cardinal in the crabapple late this afternoon, and he stayed there for over a half-hour, which was magical; and I watched a downy woodpecker at a suet feeder on my friend’s front porch this afternoon, and I frightened a turkey at her front door and watched it spread those big wings and fly off, and those were all fun and wondrous experiences that I feel privileged to have had.
But often, almost every day, I take a walk outside, or spend time in the yard, the woods, on a trail, by a beach or lake, and I didn’t today, at all, and I enjoyed my day immensely.
I think perhaps I was out of balance a bit, too much thinking, writing, meditating, word play, puzzle solving, walking, looking out of windows, looking at screens, planning, making lists, recording, reading, researching, cooking, writing and reading emails, doing solitary things and couple things — all things I also get a huge amount of satisfaction and joy from — and not enough interaction lately with friends and more of the many people I love and enjoy. It’s always a balance. I need time spent with friends, talking with friends (one on one and in groups, close friends and acquaintances and strangers), time as a couple, time alone, time with the cat, time outside, time gardening, time at the seashore, time in the woods, time travelling (I miss train travel a lot), time exploring cities, time walking or hiking, time taking photos (which I’ve done very little this week and am missing), time making art, time writing poems, time looking at art and flowers … and it’s not unusual for there to be gaps of weeks, months, maybe even years when I’m missing some of these important experiences.
Today was a good day.