Last evening I sat out on the deck and took this picture of the fading light behind the mountain. Although the first day of Autumn is still three weeks away, we’re already seeing signs of it here. The cherry tree silhouetted against the pink sky has lost most of its leaves and the buckeyes are turning yellow and brown. Most of our shrubs have completed their show, but the blooms on the lacecap hydrangea in the foreground will last a while longer.
I’m writing this on the Sunday eve of Labor Day. Tomorrow I’ll be returning to Florida where it’s flat, hot, and muggy. Another ending, another beginning. I’ll miss this beauty and the restorative immersion in Nature, but Florida has beauties of its own. The best part is living close to my children and grandchildren. I’ll spend the rest of today cleaning up and packing, and when I feel stressed about all the labor involved, I’ll step outside and breathe. I won’t have time to write a new post by Tuesday, so here’s one I wrote about another Labor Day two years ago.
I’m on a lounge chair watching rain clouds obliterate the usually relentless Florida sun. Today the clouds may win. They gather together, hanging over the horizon like a dark army on the eastern front waiting for the signal to press the pale afternoon light into the ocean. Princess palm fronds jitter in the mounting breeze. Above, a row of gulls races west. Are there six? No, seven. Do they think they’ll escape the coming storm? Not my problem. Just breathe.
Across the pool my twin grandsons excitedly toss ice cubes into the water. Fifty one. Fifty two. Fifty three. Fifty four! Skipping to their father at the umbrella-covered table they chorus, “What’s the next mission?” I smile at the innocence of their pleasure. A scruffy-looking man in a baggy bathing suit and flip flops glances through the protective fence as he walks past. Images of predators stir my imagination. I mentally chase them away. Just breathe.
Mellow music slows my thoughts; a stem of crisp Pinot Grigio waits at my right hand. A bird with a raspy cry flaps past. I’m surprised to see it’s a mourning dove. This is not the plaintive call I associate with these gentle creatures. The music stops. A shift in key and rhythm. The new song is even mellower than the last. My son and I have the same taste in music. Reflective. Melancholy with a hint of blues. Music Noir. Music with room for thinking. Music to go deep by. My daughter-in-law loves this one too. She tells me the name of the artist, a woman from Australia, I think? I want this CD. Will I remember her name? Missy something. It’s okay. Just breathe.
The breeze picks up. A giant orange, green and blue plastic shark chases an aqua float across the pool and corners it at the far end, pointed nose and sharp white teeth pressed against a raised headrest. The bully and the victim; always with us. Never mind. Just breathe.
I smell grilled steak. And maybe onions? Subtle sensations from my mid-section trip tiny triggers in my brain. Is that hunger? I should start dinner soon. I head inside for snacks. Returning across the moisture-mottled deck with bowls of chips and salsa. I wonder if it will storm or if this is a passing sprinkle. Should I bring the cushions in? They’re covered in Sunbrella but nothing lasts forever. Wait and see. Just breathe.
A distant rumble of thunder. A rising wind. A heavy drop splatters on my arch and rolls down my ankle. Suddenly we’re up and scrambling. Everything not waterproof goes inside. Just breathe.
I’m writing this at the table when my son comes in and announces that the baby — actually almost three now, but the youngest of our brood — just went poo poo in the potty for the second day in a row! The baby looks around expectantly. We all cheer and congratulate him. He shifts his weight, looks down and grins. He has reservations. He’s not quite sure yet about this potty thing. But he’s enjoying the attention. Maybe it’s okay… He’s looking forward to walking to the Surf Shop with Daddy to find a special toy to celebrate the occasion.
A flash of warmth radiates through my chest. How good it is just to breathe.
The end-goal of every psyche is to become more conscious and self-aware. You were made to want oneness, a doable antidote to the divisiveness that plagues today’s world. Self-awareness — by which I mean the acceptance of the opposites within ourselves — when combined with a sincere desire to bridge the divides between them, is the bridge to consciousness. And consciousness is the bridge to psychological and spiritual oneness. Your purpose in life is to do whatever you can to build these bridges. You’ll never be happy if you don’t at least try.