With apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
There has been evidence of greed and opportunism. This is not about that. This is about love. Signs of love, reminders to love, words of encouragement, stories of small pleasures, learnings, finding the loveable in the time of pandemic.
Though I am without doubt an introvert, having no face-to-face contact does affect me. I noticed it as minor depression when I realized, paradoxically, that I was isolating even further than necessary by not getting out and walking–holing up even more than I had to. Saturday I was determined, committed, to walking my 10K. I did it in 10-minute increments between 30-minute segments of writing. This system means I walk in the parking lots of my apartment complex. And this is how it went:
Walk #1: Walking in my nearest surroundings (parking lots; a busy, noisy street; a neighborhood of cookie-cutter condos and ranch-style houses), does not delight me. I say I am happy to live here because I am close to trailheads in the Sandia Mountains and to a nearby openspace, but in the days of pandemic, I supect there are bunches of people in those places. Ten minutes barely gets me outside the parking lots. On my first walk of the day I realized, Oh, but I can look the whole time at the mountains–close enought to touch, the majesty of the Sandias; farther away, the Manzanos; on the horizon, the volcanoes, Mt. Taylor, Monte Negro. The blessed Mountains.
Walk #2: On Walk #1, it was mostly cloudy, or perhaps–glass half-full–partly sunny. In fact, quite sunny, the app on my phone to the contrary. And I reveled in that partial sun. The second walk testified to the changeable weather in New Mexico and took place under a monotone gray blanket. I reveled in the shadow, the melancholia, which I confess to loving.
Walk #3: Sunshine with glorious silvery white cumulus clouds.
Walk #4: Along came the After Lunch Slump, and the sky was again gray, the Ponderosa pine branches outside my window furiously swaying in the wind. I didn't want to walk, but I had told Irene I would make my 10K. Accountability is helpful. And the gray was not monochrome. It was full of life–massing, heavy clouds, bruised, filled with rain, though the app said there was 0% chance of it happening. I was glad I walked, after all.
Walk #5: I stepped onto my porch and saw it was sprinkling. By the time I reached the asphalt, it was truly raining but not pouring. The smell of rain on the dry desert earth, the wetness, speak to me of life.
Walk #6: The sun was out again in its golden evening splendor. I thought the rain had stopped. But it was doing its New Mexico thing–Rain In Sunlight. I looked forward to rainbows, and sure enough, faint bands of color rose up the closest foothills. Past the end of the last parking lot and onto the sidewalk, there is a bridge that crosses the Embudito Flood Control Arroyo–the terminus of my 10-minute walk. The rain had ended by then. I stopped, leaned on the bridge, and watched the water flowing downhill, creating small ponds below the spillway. These ponds are not beautiful. They are murky, surrounded by collected detritus. The little birds–sparrows perhaps or finches but too far away to tell–didn't mind. They flew down and dabbled and splashed in the water. Their comrades, in the tall trees, warbled joy.
Walk #7: The water was done flowing, and the birds were preparing to rest. A mourning dove on one of the apartment roofs moaned her deep sorrow. I had accumulated 10,575 steps.
Everything changes, and here, most especially the light.
Daily Quarantine Questions
1. What am I grateful for today?
2. Who am I checking in on or connecting with today?
3. What expectations of "normal" am I letting go of today?
4. How am I getting outside today?
5. How am I moving my body today?
6. What beauty am I creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?
INVITATION by Mary Oliver from Red Bird
Oh do you have time
for just a little while
out of your busy
and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles
for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude–
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in this broken world.
I beg of you,
do not walk by
to attend to this
rather ridiculous perormance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.