That place is different for everyone – that place where you can breathe easy,
be yourself, feel spacious both inside inside and out. That place where you feel enormously grateful for all that you have and excited for everything yet to come.
Only you can know where that place is.
Only you can swim there.
~ Amy Tingle (118: Paradise, or How to Breathe)
This morning, 6:15, off to the bay for sunrise I left the radio on as I backed the car out. I usually turn it off. But Saturday I accidentally caught the tail end of On Being. It was wonderful. This morning, older Arab men buying young Egyptian girls as throw-away brides. The girls sold by family and brokers. It was two blocks before I switched it away. I wasn’t even listening. I’d sunk into wondering how it must feel to be that girl. How trapped she must feel inside. The violation of her body penetrated. At the end of my drive, I walked the long way to the water, saying Gratitudes aloud the whole time. Because Gratitude under the last fade of stars feels especially holy and heard, especially when things feel hard.
I know my problems are first-world problems. A former landlord’s plans to steal $800 from us, with travesties as justification – $24 for mismatched lightbulbs, $39 for shipping charges we could’ve driven five min. to avoid, rent charged for days after we vacated, silly pictures and blatant lies. Someone said to let his pettiness go. $800 and being abused don’t feel petty to us, though. There’s always something worse or better to compare. And my husband and I are arguing, in ways we’ve not argued in thirty years marriage, for the third time in as many days, in ways that make me want to run away or fly high into space. And my hard drive crashing to dark screen tonight, the laptop with my creative files. This after a stressful move. After months of other stuff. I’m calm – call the lawyer, drive off for errands, close the lid – but the truth is I’m swimming like crazy these days.
And I have a choice which direction to go, even as I say ‘this sucks.’
I’m pulling out my artifacts of better things. Things I do, like from two weeks ago when I sat in the chiropractor’s office, early for my appointment, and a man waited with me. His expression strange. I wondered if something was wrong with him. He rose, went to the counter. ‘This is a complimentary visit, right?’ No, and she showed him what it would cost. He turned to leave without the adjustment and without thought, I rose, ‘I’ll pay his visit.’ He wanted my address to repay me. I wanted to give him a gift, asked if that was okay. I learned he’s lived with severe chronic back pain for years. They caught me a week later at the door, handed me the sweetest Thank You card in the most beautiful handwriting. It had stickers of a sunflower and butterfly on it, and that touched me deeply.
Things others do, like the little cards made of construction paper I discovered in my mailbox in Asheville, twice. One says ‘U R AWESOME.’ The other, ‘Dear you, hope you have a GREAT easter. from, me.’ Someone teaching their child to spread love was my guess at the time. I loved that. Kept those cards on my desk where I could see them. I’ve moved 3 times since then, but some things are rout in my organizational mind. I can find them.
Gratitude helps, too. With Gratitude I can remember how it felt to breathe easy. Can remember that feeling of spaciousness inside and out. Remember I have books to write, and I love writing. That the birds have returned to the bay. Hundreds from all the water tribes. Remember after I climb into bed my AppleCare’s still active. Remember moment by moment to carry me thru. And as the main character in The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean said, “We’ll just go straight and eventually we’ll get there. What I mean is that we’ll get somewhere. Out of here. I mean, logically, we have to get out as long as we walk straight. I’ve done this millions of times. Whenever everything’s killing me I just say to myself, Screw it, and go straight ahead.” Yep, I’ve done this millions of times. Straight ahead. Facing the sun. Like the sunflower on the card.
Tell me. How do you face the sun when hard stuff piles up?
The Australian coast, from space.
Another small journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life.
All I ever wanted in life was to make a difference, conquer the universe,
travel the world, meet interesting people, find the missing link, fight the good fight,
live for the moment, seize each day, make a fortune, know what really matters,
end world hunger, vanquish the dragon, be super popular but too cool to care,
be master of my own fate, embrace my destiny, feel as much as I can feel,
give too much, and love everything.
~ Tatsuya Ishida
A secret: Be Here Now.
A favorite: My organizational mind…I found the little construction paper cards.
Jonathan Bean – freshwater west, United Kingdom
NASA – Australian coast