Coming Back

 Yesterday I had a moment in which I proclaimed to Carl, "The only thing I'm good at is cleaning!  It's all I do!"  The exclamation marks weren't out of excitement. So I think today I am on strike to myself and I am writing this while a bit of a mess abounds in my wee house.  In the flurry of cleaning that proceeded my exaggerations yesterday however, I dropped a bottle of vinegar, which consequently knocked three eggs off the counter and wuffed them all over the floor.  Wuff is not a verb that I actually know, it just seems so appropriate for the way those dumb eggs spread their yellow and white skirts all over my kitchen floor.

Carl said, "I think you need to go on a bike ride."  Boy, was he right.   In somewhat of a defeatist slouch, I unlocked my white Townie and rode away.  I believe that wherever we find ourselves on this earth, there are special places for us.  Places that are as perfect as the northern lights.  For me, my place here in California are the forests surrounding Stanford's campus.  Trails wind through the trees and even though I am not far from a city, I feel like I am in a sacred space.  As I rode away from the broken eggs still spreading on my floor, I felt better.  I don't ever want to leave behind what home is to me, but sometimes I am more full of spirit there when I take a few minutes to remember that trees are strong and tall, that dirt reminds me of being small, the a cold wind clears out my lungs and that out in the world, my difficulties are like grains of sand, and I can handle that.  I can handle messes and babies who don't take naps, and dinners that all have the commonality of burnt flavoring.  I can even handle the fact that I don't know what I'll do next in terms of art and writing, and I don't know if I will ever do anything markedly significant for the world, even when I want to.

Just as I was about to turn my bike around and ride back, my eye caught something through the trees: a Great Blue Heron.  I recognized it immediately because I've painted them before, and although I've never actually seen one in real life, the soft S-curve in the neck, the purpley-blue feathers, the slender beak and spindly legs, were familiar to me.  I stopped and watched him walk across a clearing, and then he stopped.  And I stopped.  And we stayed there stopped for probably ten minutes.  It was like I drank in his stillness with my eyes, and he was kind enough to let me.  I wonder what he got from me?  I hope something.

I knew I needed to get back, so I sturdied my feet on the pedals and rode away.  I looked behind and was surprised to see that the Heron had turned his head in my direction.  I'm sure it was the crunching of leaves, but I take things as I can get them, and so to me, it was a sign.

A sign to be more still.  I've been thinking since then about the things in my life that interrupt my stillness, not to be conflated with silence and inactivity.  There are so many things that enrich, but frankly, there are things that do less than that.  I don't know quite how to do the inventory, but I know that I am at least thinking about what I can let go.  I took notes during conference and I put a few stars by this sentence, I'm not sure if a speaker said it, or if I just wrote it:  "We need to re-prioritize in order for the sacred things to come back."  So good of either my former self to write that down, or for someone wise to say it.

By the time I walked through the front door, the eggs had been cleaned up.


ani said...

Thank you Ash, I needed that inspiration. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I’m sitting in front of my over-whelmingly never-ending pile of homework assignments, wishing I was anywhere but this poorly lit library. Thank you for the encouragement to be still, and to let sacred things come back. Sending you love.

Allison said...

I love this. Thank you so much for sharing!

Cait said...

I wish I was good at cleaning sometimes.

Deja said...

Love this, love that painting, wishing I had a bike and those California woods to ride it in, though I know there are equivalents in my own world. Thanks for reminding me to find them, to coax the sacred back to me.

Heather said...

Beautiful post! And never doubt your significance. :-) Even though I haven't met you--your words have enriched my life. And think of sweet Remy . . . your contribution to him and therefore society is immeasurable!

P.S. Love the painting! I saw a Newberry winner's book . . . something about a ball for Daisy?? and thought of you. Perhaps one day you'll be a Newberry winner too! (Either way, I think you should be.)'