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Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Power of Simple Pleasures

In a world where there is so much striving and fretting to possess the material, I wonder how it would be if each of us were to take a little time every day to glance around and appreciate the simple pleasures. What difference might it make to observe and absorb the quiet beauty that is all around us if we care to open ourselves to its presence.

I am blessed with a garden. Now I could look at it as a curse. It is a very large garden. It is mostly set on a steep slope which makes grass cutting a difficult and demanding job. It is extraordinarily fertile which makes it a paradise for every chance weed seedling in the West of Scotland. It is also a very rich source of my daily simple pleasures.

Do not fall into the trap of thinking that simple things do not have the potential for massive impact on your life and wellbeing. Have you observed the transformative effect of a day of sunshine after a long period of dismal clouds? People smile. They even say hello instead of tucking their head down so their eyes do not meet yours or even scowling in unconscious challenge to any positive vibration which might accidentally reach them in their self-imposed misery. The sun works its magic and even the sourest of dispositions is sweetened.

Right now as I type this, I can hear the birds singing in my garden. Now logically I know that they might be issuing territorial warnings to other birds but I chose to simply enjoy the beauty and think of them as calling out their pleasure at this little world, this green and tranquil place. I know that they have a whole stream to drink from at the bottom of our garden but chose to think that they come to drink from my bird bath because they like my company.

There is a huge black raven who visits in the evening and I watch him from my patio window, He usually brings large chunks of bread with him, collected from some generous soul. He had learned to dunk the bread in my bath until it disintegrates and becomes easy to eat. I am a simple soul and I cannot tell you how much amusement it affords me to watch him. I call him my raven but my husband says that he probably looks on us as his humans. I have no right of possession but he is a gentle companion, a simple pleasure to be treasured.

Another simple pleasure for me is the sight of a snowdrop pushing its way up through the frozen winter earth. It is such a small, delicate flower and yet it is the first to tell us that the long dark nights are beginning to come to an end. In that powerful little flower is the symbol of the reawakening of the world, of redemption after the dark night of the soul, of the light that always follows the deepest darkness. Simple, indeed.

So look around you today and consciously chose to become aware of such simple pleasures. In their simplicity lies a power that will transform you life.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

It is almost three years since my friend of 30 years died very suddenly after the rapid onset of leukaemia. Her death hit me harder than I could ever have anticipated. I was thinking about her this morning after spotting her name on my friends' email folder. I have not been able to bring myself to delete our correspondence which includes her last message to me when she clearly had a presentiment of her death. In the manner in which coincidence works, later as I worked to delete some sent emails in one of my organisational burst of energy, I came across the following which was sent to another friend in April of 2006.

Funny old world and strangely wonderful the workings of the human heart. I had just finished writing a memorial for Deborah which was really quite hopeful and positive in my own uniquely Maria way. Then I started to write a poem for a class I am in and wham, there I was blind sided yet again, wallop, smack across the face. Grief is a bit like a worm wriggling its way to the surface. You are never sure when it will appear, if it it still there at all and where it might pop up.

Funny old world, indeed.

Has it been a year?
Time seems so sluggish
quagmired in deep sludge,
emotional debris of a life lost and mourned.

Strange thoughts come in unguarded moments.
Are our lives recycled as some great cosmic compost
Cast upon the earth again?

It really hurt.
You made your exit
I missed my chance to say goodbye
but truly we already had.

Words are superfluous
when you inhabit one another's heads
think the same thoughts
live the same fears.

I remember you at 18
crying in my arms
because you felt life slipping away,
afraid already.

Damn, it still hurts,
tight feeling in my chest,
across my heart,
as tears fight to escape my eyes.
I feel a scream building up inside
ready to explode
out into a world stripped bare of you.