During Thanksgiving I took a walk I love to take when visiting, the part of the Bristol Hills along Canandaigua Lake at Seneca point and then up the steep incline of Bopple Hill Road. It is a challenging bit of road which in the past has left me gasping after just a few hundred yards. But this year I was up and over the first stretch without a thought, feeling strong and full of deep breath. Sharing my delight at this experience of ease with my mother, I mused that I must be in better shape than I thought, that even the modest walk in the woods with Nora each day must be making a difference. She agreed. Even voiced out loud and emphasized the importance of doing this every day.
Yesterday I knit all day long. Favorite movies kept me company like old friends can do. From the time the sun came up until the dark hour just before bed. I noticed where this work of the day was broken up by the few essential things I do every day right now, the ritual of coffee, yoga, framing a morning photo in the camera lens, some writing, preparing and eating food, bringing in some wood for the fire, walking in the woods with Nora. These things I am currently in the habit of doing every single day are necessary and vital. Yet at some point during the completely present place I was joyfully letting myself be in with my project, even with these every day essentials providing the relief of punctuation, I still wondered if the work was enough, if maybe I should be doing something more.
I have to keep reminding myself it’s the time of year when I completely and wholeheartedly want to let go to the making of Christmas. Each year this involves a project or two that requires serious commitment if I am going to finish in time. Every molecule of my creative energy swirls toward the day. Everything I see or make or do is weighed and measured as a possible giving, a possible gift. Every year while home, I ponder in this place I love to be. Consider how it might actually become the place I live in every day all year long.
Every day provides structure. It is a structure that lets meaning of spontaneous come alive. Every day the sun rises. Taking a picture each morning gives me a platform to feel uniquely into the day, whether I am in the shadow or the light of the sun’s emerging presence.
Coming upon my favorite view down the brook every day, the one I without fail stop to take in fully, settles me into a different place in my body depending on where the light falls.
Watching Nora on our path together is always breathtaking.
Sometimes I can capture it. Sometimes I have to just be with her fully and completely in those moments, knowing I will experience her majesty and beauty in so many other unexpected ways. And coming up the last bit of the loop facing the entrance to the house, I always take in the energy of laughing garden Buddha every day too, resting in the shade of foliage most of the summer, now fully exposed and ready to take on winter.
His presence is a reminder that even if I am sitting in one place all day long, even if what I do seems to be repetitive or monotonous or frivolous, it is possible to experience it with peace and enthusiasm.
For me, these things that we see and do every day create the breeding ground for enthusiasm in life. We can hold onto the illusion that the structure is safe, will give us something real to hold onto each day. But the fact is, even the habits and rituals that seem rote or predictable hold the spark of enthusiasm and joy. We just have to be willing to let go of any expectation of what we think is stable. As Pema Chodron teaches, imagine that the raft we are on in the middle of the lake begins to disintegrate and we find ourselves with absolutely nothing left to hold onto. Only then will the things we do every day hold the potential for being enough.
So I watch myself, fully into the season now of letting go to passion for making Christmas, noticing the difference from last year, the strength of my willingness to let go even while negotiating whatever form of judgement arises to challenge my enthusiasm for this time.
My experiences of the past year of every day have made a difference.