Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life? The Grasshopper, by Mary Oliver
I haven’t quite eased into the summer routine yet, haven’t given myself the permission I need to relax and let go of some of my schedules and obligatory to-do’s. I haven’t quite learned to “be idle and blessed,” to “stroll through the fields.” It’s always a struggle for me to truly sink into down time. I can’t quite give up the notion that I should be accomplishing more every day, especially when the days are SO long.
I was talking with a friend the other day about living more pro-actively, about planning in terms of large blocks of time so I don’t feel so bogged down reacting to minutiae. On the surface that sounds like more control than I should be concerned with, especially in the summer; sounds like just another way to put pressure on myself to follow the schedule or the plan.
But as I experiment with thinking this way (and as my friend reminded me it’s all just an experiment, nothing is written in stone) I find it actually feels freeing, to think about what I can do in a week or month, to look at an entire year’s calendar and notice those times when I might need some extra rest because of a busy concert schedule, or when other obligations are lighter and I could dedicate more time to creative projects, or when I might be emotionally tender and need to treat myself with extra gentleness.
I've started looking at my life with a different lens, sort of a wide-angle perspective rather than the narrow up close view that leads to knee-jerk reactions, and I find it feels safer, as if I’m not just a sitting duck in an arcade game waiting for someone with good aim to blast me off my perch. I could actually be someone who has a thoughtful, informed outlook on how to manage my life in a way that I enjoy it more and feel the most satisfied and happy.
So this easy livin’ summertime thing with all these hours of unstructured daylight - what does that look like for me?
For one thing, I’m sleeping SO much better - in fact, last night I was already falling asleep even when it was still light outside, so I just went upstairs and crawled into bed where I slept peacefully until my normal wake up time this morning.
I’m drinking infused water - my favorite is with oranges and strawberries - and make a pitcher every morning to sip throughout the day.
I’m eating lots of fresh salads and vegetables - lunch these days is often power greens with a mixture of toppings: feta cheese, chick peas, grilled chicken or salmon.
I’m sitting still - outside on my deck surrounded by huge pots of flowers, upstairs in the soft chair by my desk, curled up in a corner of the couch where I can catch a glimpse of hummingbirds whirring up to the feeder.
I’m reading - volume 2 in the Outlander series (Dragonfly in Amber), my “guilty pleasure” summer reading series this year. Also The Ten Letters Project, a book that is just grabbing my heart with one “Me too!” moment after another. I’m also reading some interesting books for a new writing project, which I’m not quite ready to talk about yet, but I find myself pretty engaged in it.
I’m writing - on this new project, and also committing to my three weekly blog posts.
I’m watching - Grace and Frankie a great series on Netflix starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, two long time friends re-inventing their lives after a major upheaval. (Hint: It involves their husbands, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, who have been business partners for 30 years and are taking their partnership to "another level”.)
The danger zone in my summer days is always late afternoon into early evening. Jim has been working long hours for the past few months, and often doesn’t get home until 7:30 or even 8:00. Although this pattern isn’t totally unfamiliar, it’s been quite a few years since we’ve consistently lived with this schedule. I find it hard to be home alone during that time period, find myself restless and bored. I can’t seem to settle into reading, I feel like I need something more active than that, but I’m never in the mood to do anything. It’s times like those that I wish I could do needlework - I seem to need to so something with my hands. So I’m making a list of things I can do during that time to engage myself. Playing the piano is an option. So is trying some kind of simple art projects - coloring? collage?
Sinking into summertime, to the idea of easy living, of enjoying my one wild and precious life - that is my work for the world these days. And how blessed I am to be able to discover it.