Aperture: The Space through which Happiness Passes
Friday March 25, 2016 (for Wednesday, February 25, 2016)
It is gray and cold outside, technically below freezing. I woke up and turned up the heat. I had a good sleep with somewhat disturbing dreams, like a slight clotting of cream in a delicious cup of coffee. The American International School pictures have stirred up both happy and sad and scary memories and these provoked in me some regrets that I was not more attuned to, and involved in my siblings’ lives. I was fifteen to seventeen then, and scarcely aware of the importance of awareness and memory as pillars of the development of my Good Self. That I do not remember more, about each person—acquaintance or friend–with whom I shared some time and space and location, bothers me. Like any parent to a younger child or one’s own younger self-in-recollection, I feel the frustration of not being able to perambulate backward in time to impart the wisdom that only comes streaming into the hourglass in grains of sand. The aperture of now, and the aperture of then differ so widely.
But I feel grateful this morning for the quiet and solitude of my house and the land around me. There is goodness in that. Those persons on the planet whom I love, for whom I want to express my love, recede for a moment. I can gather my energy, refresh myself. Quiet does that. The presence of others in the house occupies my mind and heart, as if, at any moment someone might want or need something. I would like to provide for them their wishes, should my help be appropriate. Laundry, food or a drink, directions, the borrowing of an item, the finding of one. . . I stay tuned to those radio-like frequencies of others and do not filter them out. I listen, lean, anticipate, and attend. So when I sit here alone, and there is no one else in the house who might need or want anything, I luxuriate in the spaciousness of that.
Yet there is no static place of solitude or company that results in happiness. Happiness resides in the dance of cloud and sun, of heat and breezy relief from heat. Inner weather, from the sunny core of me to the ozone layer and the thinner stratospheres beyond, varies continuously. Like balancing–a vibration, a shifting, a seamless (if one is lucky enough to do this well) series of delicate adjustments. Like breathing—inspiration and expiration and the long golden thread of emptying and filling in between.
I miss my brother and have missed him every other day or so this March. He died in March 35 years ago. But there are places in my body that hold his absence gently, where once, a long time ago, I railed at his utter gone-ness at such a young age–27. And all those young people, particularly young men, who are dying now, in every town across the country due to opiate overdoses, has brought this back to me. The hypnotic spell of opiates, like a ghastly Stepford conversion, this Pied Piper of death, leads too many too soon to their graves. And yet, even the taking of drugs serves an initial, and so human purpose—relief. Relief from emotional pain, from self-loathing, from anger, from disappointment, from fatigue, from stress, from depression, from loneliness, from a sense of failure, from physical pain, from an inability to envision a better future, from all kinds of unsatiated hungers; from running, running, running away.
Rain is coming down. My phone says it is thirty degrees this morning. I imagine the birds, the squirrels, and the deer as cold and uncomfortable, focused on sheltering and trying to feed themselves and this makes me remember that I dreamed about squirrels flying last night. That I thought they were birds, but someone pointed out to me that a “flock” of squirrels had traversed a great distance of sky into a harbor of trees whose canopy quickly concealed them. It must have been because I walked with Lili yesterday in the new baby backpack. We saw some birds along the wooded path to the pond, as well as some squirrels. She felt heavy in the backpack but I loved her weight and the pressure it put on my sedentary thighs. The weight, the gravity, the air-born—perhaps all of that melded into the dream imagery.
The wind blew strongly and even with the two pairs of socks I put on Lili’s feet, I worried that her toes would get too cold so sometimes I put my hands behind my back and held her feet. Even though her cheeks reddened and her nose ran she still fell asleep before we reached home. So soundly that I unpacked her, removed the extra sweater, mittens and socks without her waking. I placed her on a bed with a quilt, carefully below her face in these days where babies are supposed to sleep without any blanketing. I watched her breathe, face relaxed, and took a nap next to her.
Exercise. Rest. Waking to the sweetness of baked yam and tiny pieces of ripe banana. A slow slip into the afternoon. Goodness of a day with Lili. Goodness now this day by myself.
Materiality—sand sifting through the aperture of the hourglass in grain upon grain; the sweet, thousand-kissed nearly pore-less skin of Lili’s cheek—holds hands with any thoughts in wisdom, in happiness.
Guest saddle: Through what opening does light flow into your life? When you are walking by the ocean, a lake, on a mountain? When you wake up, or revel in a conversation with a friend? How does your inner weather change? Dramatically or subtley? What is wild and precious to you? (words taken from Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day—“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”)