I’d like to take Italian lessons and learn how to weld. I’d like to build a meandering stone wall (a la Andy Goldsworthy) and live in a tiny cabin on the edge of a musical creek. I’d like to walk the Camino de Santiago like my friend Maria or make art journals as beautiful and meaningful as my friend Anne’s. I’d like to tango like my friend Heather and zip line through a Costa Rican rain forest.
But, this summer, I’m busy. I’m learning to breathe.
Learning to pause. Learning to savor. Learning to BE.
It’s not as easy as it sounds.
It’s like meditation. How hard could it be to just sit with an empty mind? Very hard, as it turns out, danged near impossible it seems for people like me who are always thinking, feeling, dreaming, creating.
But here’s the key…
There are soooo many distractions, obligations, siren calls, and relentless assaults on our personal peace. There are a million things to do and see and get done. But this long, hot, endless Tucson summer, I am just trying to learn to breathe.
In and out. Innnnn…and….outtttttt. Deeply in…deeply out. Calm and steady. Slow and conscious. The sacred act of breathing.
So simple and so hard.
And by slowing down to breathe I have discovered so much about myself.
I have given myself the gift of time not scripted by work or obligations, not constrained by chores or the demands of living in a broken world.
Time to enjoy working on several big juicy art projects, writing a new collection of poetry, returning to the lost art of writing long handwritten letters to dear ones (in your mailbox soon Mariah).
Time to read scads of fantastic books. Time to watch oodles of good movies from the Pima Public Library’s wonderful Kanopy service. Time to sort, organize, and release tons of “stuff.”
I’ve been spending many fine hours with my Sweetheart, moments made so much sweeter and more poignant as our mortality looms larger.
I have definitely turned off the blare of media and bad news, the spew of drama and discontent, and decided to consciously embrace the theory that life is more about attitude than circumstance.
I have decided to be happy. Even though…the world is falling apart, the summer heat is exhausting, the car needed unexpected, costly repairs, and I somehow sprained my right wrist.
I have decided to be grateful…even though I’m worried about how to keep the Cottage afloat and the curved-bill thrashers have mocked every effort to keep the tomatoes safe on the vine, and , did I mention, I sprained my right wrist?
That means not feeding myself all the toxic spew of politics, not lamenting what I wish I had or used to be able to do or all the places it is clear I will never see (goodbye dreams of New Zealand, Borneo, and returning to Ireland).
I’ve learned as an old crone, made fragile from a long life of very hard work, blighted by Lyme Disease and a heart attack, seriously limited now in my once robust physical stamina, that for everything there is a season and this season for me is about restoration and re-enchanting my life with creativity, friends, and the small, beautiful moments that I might have missed if I hadn’t slowed down enough to savor them.
I’m officially out of the drama business. I have given up most of my ambition, striving, achieving, and exhaustive running in circles in favor of just being compassionate, kind, and genuinely loving. It’s a full-time job NOT ranting about politics, crying over the woes of the world, feeling hopeless and defeated by the daily outrages against reason, civil discourse, and human decency. But I have firmly come to believe that…
So, hard as it is, I am working to simplify and deepen my life.
Like my dear friend Sandi in Santee, I believe part of my spiritual practice is trying to be a radiant, loving, thoughtful, creative woman, working with my hands and my heart in the small, sacred tendings of garden and loved ones.
As the world cranks itself up into one frenzy after another, one crisis and then three more, I am trying to learn to just content myself with living a simpler life, gradually paring back my human footprint on the delicate ecology of the planet.
I am working on opening my heart in these hard times when the heart can get so bruised and battered that it almost feels safer to close it off, board it up, and not feel all the sadness and woe.
Don’t get me wrong, it ain’t easy. It doesn’t come naturally to me not to work, work, work…give, give, give…but the task of elders, it seems to me, is to have time to share, stories to tell, wisdom to exchange, experience to count on. Eldership requires a long, hard look at what is, not what was, what might be, or what we might want it to be.
And part of loving this new phase of my life is that it gives me time for immense gratitude. For friends like 96 year old Mari who continues to read and think and write and be fully present in the world through her own sense of gratitude for each moment of her well-lived life. For books and music and the fellowship of the Cottage tribe. For my raggedy little shack in the desert where there is fresh food and clean sheets and a little dog named Gus who adds joy to every day. For my dear sister Kim and the magical time we are finally able to share after decades apart. For the sunrise through the clouds, the call of the hawk on the high thermals, the laughter of children. For soooo much more.
So please, take a moment, right THIS moment, to breathe…to be grateful…to give yourself a break. Stop waiting for things to get better, the stars to properly align, the lottery ticket to pay off…stop comparing yourself to what you don’t have and start making an inventory of what you do have. Stop waiting for someone else, something else to make you happy…
Know that I am a fellow wayfarer on this rocky road with you and that at the Creative Cottage I offer you a cool drink from my canteen, a safe rest from the world’s tragedies, and a place to prop open your heart to receive the immeasurable blessings of friendship and respite.
One deep breath at a time,
© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved.