Thoughts from Annie
This month, I am sharing a piece written by my friend Linda Loranger. Linda is a part of the OHMC sangha and I’m so grateful to her for sharing her thoughts with us.
Comments are always welcome.
Listen to the Birds
by Linda Loranger
Three months ago, my car tires crunched to a stop just feet away from the Chesapeake Bay cottage I hoped would reveal a path forward for me.
I pushed open the front door and walked through a series of sunlit, white-washed rooms with wide plank floors, comfy white couches, sea glass and buddhas, all overlooking the water.
I took a deep breath in, anticipating the space and quiet of the next 10 days. This was my time. It would be just me, long walks with Jazz and Coltrane — my two golden retrievers, my journal and an audio copy of Michelle Obama’s Becoming.”
What a luxury. To have this time in this beautiful place to figure out what I wanted to do in the next chapter of my life. I had just walked away from a job I had loved but outgrown after 25 years. I was ready for something new. Like the sunshine and wide expanse of water in front of me, the possibilities seemed infinite.
My questions: What gives me joy? How do I want to live in the world?
Finding Joy In The Small Things
Fast forward to now. Those questions seem irrelevant. My 10 days of happy solitude have morphed into endless days of uncertainty and questioning how to move forward in the midst of a pandemic where some are fighting to survive and most are struggling to hold on to some semblance of their previous lives.
Never before has the meaning of impermanence been so central to my every day thoughts. Or the awareness of how we are all so interconnected. Or the importance of acceptance and perspective. Where three months ago I used my mindfulness practice to buoy my decision to pursue a different direction with my life, I am relying on it now to sustain me in these trying times.
And I am acutely aware that I am lucky.
Mindfulness teaches us that we have the power to find happiness and comfort in the smallest things. We can’t control all circumstances or changes, but we can control how we view and react to them. We can find small joys in our everyday lives.
“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.”
— THICH NHAT HANH
During my short stay on the Chesapeake Bay, my absolute favorite moment was waking up to the sunrise over the water and hearing the birds. So much life, so many sounds. Now, my absolute favorite moment is waking up to the birds, mixed in with a little traffic noise. I am finding calm and joy in the little things:
· Listening to the birds
· Taking pictures of flowers in my garden
· Taking walks in Rock Creek Park with my goldens
· Sitting in the sun
· Breathing in the now
I have a house, a family, a secure income. I am not at home trying to balance schooling my kids while also working. I am not an “essential” employee, forced to put my health at risk to make the money I need to live. I am not worried about a loved one in a nursing home that I cannot visit. I do not live alone.
But I am connected to people who do. Through our mindfulness practice we can take a step back, even if for just a moment or two, to appreciate the smallest joys and reach out with compassion to help others.
For now, I am detouring away from my third chapter life quest to focus on the path of gratitude and sharing the small joys with as many people as I can.