Last year my life was turned upside down. The world as I thought I knew it was irreversibly changed. It left me shaken, shocked and on the brink of despair. Yet as traumatic as the experience was, it reminded me that we can control nothing in life except our attitude towards it. Pain is inevitable, misery is definitely a choice.
As I write this the fog blankets the Big Sur Coast at the mouth of Rocky Creek. It seems impenetrable as it slides further south. Yet at the crests of its wisps, it disappears into a rich blue endless sky.
To the East, where Long Ridge climbs eastward from the sea, the tanbarks are brown in the July sun, victims of Sudden Oak Death. Though my binoculars I can see the wilted, dry leaves—fuel for the fire which one day will again consume the canyon in nature’s endless cycle. Chaparral blankets the hillside, not unlike the fog to the west, giving way to the verdant green of Monterey Pine, Douglas Fir, and majestic Redwoods, survivors of countless generations of man-made and natural attacks. As I focus on each Tanbark, it looks so forlorn, so used up, so forgotten. Yet as I draw my eye away from the glasses, and see these once mighty oaks within the patchwork of the living mountain, their part in the dance is so obvious, so natural, so necessary.
It’s just a question of where to put my attention, and what “magnification” I trust to help me see.
Many mornings, when I sit an look out at the yard, quail come skittering out of the bushes, bustling their way through their morning meal. A young rabbit often joins them. One morning one of the quail and the bunny played together; the rabbit would jump up, the quail would jump higher, the quail would return to tease the rabbit, the rabbit would jump again in a kind of a jig. They were playing.
Several weeks ago, a doe came up with her fawn, right to the window and glanced in seeing my wife and I, welcoming us with their presence and lack of fear. Yesterday, they returned, the fawn’s walk more surefooted, its spots fading.
This afternoon, before sitting to write, I took a nap. I dreamed of a doe in our living room, her head caught between the stiles of our spiral staircase. I came up to her and freed her head. She licked my hand, her black nose shiny. I woke.
The dead tanbarks still sit across the canyon, a dog barks, yellowjackets buzz, a spider web glistens before me, the sun, past its late afternoon zenith arcs to the sea
There is so much here, right now. It’s not rocket science, nor does it require donning white robes and chanting into the night. It’s simple, but it ain’t easy: Slow Down, Breathe, Pay Attention, Relax and Lighten Up.
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