Waking up at the lake is a radically different experience from waking at my home in the Bay Area. Why you might ask? I think it has something to do with perception, a deep listening, the kind of listening that is so absorbing, it’s as if your life has become a living concerto. You know what I mean? A musical composition if you will, one solo instrument, accompanied by an entire damn orchestra. It’s magnificent.
I stagger out of bed with the rising sun, my husband is already up, space he recently occupied still warm, dented, rumpled. I glance in the mirror on the way to the loo and smile. The truth is my hair always looks good at the lake. It’s true. No one has bothered to study this phenomenon but I have a suspicion it has something to do with that radically seized perception I was just speaking of. I actually see it differently.
My silhouette is narrower, like a block of cheese lightly grated, I’m fully aware this has to do with a warped mirror, but that’s beside the point, and admittedly it plays into the deployment of my mood.
Walking into the living room (love the name), I give Larry a good morning kiss and make a beeline for the coffee pot. With a steaming cup of coffee in hand, I linger in the dining room, which in my opinion has the best view of the lake, framed by these enormous sliding glass doors, I consider it a work of art. I stand there with my nose a centimeter from the glass consuming the view with my ears, eyes, nose.
When you have an intense contact of love with nature or another human being, like a spark, then you understand that there is no time and that everything is eternal. Paulo Coelho
I’m acutely aware of the way my pajamas caress my skin, the crispness of the morning air, the cool tiles beneath my feet, the density of the warm mug in my hand, the aroma of the french roast. My eyes scan the scene spread out before me, as if butter on warm toast, melting into the landscape. January is stark, naked, and brazenly alive. The dormancy of the trees is striking against the lush foliage, a hibernation of sorts, in that everything slows down, goes into a prolonged fast, primitive, emptying, quiet. I’m drawn into the alchemy of this primal world as if it were deeply embedded in my soul.
The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.” Eckhart Tolle
The ripples on the water boldly reflect the rays of the sun, smiling, winking, laughing as if a child at play. I notice the way the fog tantalizes the tit of the mountain, erotic, raw, unapologetic. The gentle movement of the clouds migrating ever so slowly across the sky forces me to concede as to the uniqueness of each and every day. I allow my eyes to hitchhike with a flock of pelicans moving west, scanning the irreverent flow of the water below, and then gliding ever so gracefully onto the surface as if a fleet of small seaplanes.
Gratitude is the understanding that…the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege.
I hear Larry say, “bring me a cup?” I literally have to rip my eyes away from the sumptuous view, as if removing the wax seal from a personal note, the trance is irrevocably broken. I move slowly back into the kitchen, reaching for his favorite mug, filling the vessel with a generous pour of fragrant dark roast.
[This is as far as I got with my post, the weekend at the lake slipped away, we drove back to the Bay Area in silence, back to our jobs, responsibilities, old wounds. I attempt to continue the tale but the mojo is broken, try as I may, I can’t recapture the essence, so I allow it to flow in a new direction.]
I love the line from the movie The Way, “you don’t choose a life, you live it.” The film is about pilgrimage, transformation, and spirituality, not necessarily religious, but rooted in the heart. We’re currently viewing it in one of my classes. It illustrates the idea of letting go of what we think should happen, including our illusion of control, and living in the present moment, the only place in which we can actually emerge from the colossal womb of life. Osho says intelligence is the capacity to be reborn again and again, to die to the past, and live in the present.
If you are depressed, you are living in the past, if your are anxious, you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present. Lao Tzu
Most people would agree compassion, prudence, kindness, perseverance, courage, wisdom, generosity, discipline, even humor are all important virtues. How we employ these virtues becomes our unique contribution to the world. If we knew just how powerfully our thoughts, words, and actions affected the hearts of those around us, we’d reach out and join hands again, and again says Tara Brach.
Sometimes I live as if I have a personal canon, set in stone, and that which lies outside my limited comprehension is simply rejected. Jane Leavy warns trauma fractures comprehension as a pebble shatters a windshield. The wound at the site of impact spreads across the field of vision, obscuring reality and challenging belief. It seems to be the human condition. Birth is suffering, growth is suffering, the seed suffers the earth, the root suffers the rain, the bud suffers its flowering claims, Hermann Hesse. Oh, the injustice of judging others by our own warped compass?
It’s mid-January, I might be succumbing to the darkness, frigidity, and barrenness of my surroundings, but sometimes I grow weary of the daily grind. I think that’s why waking up at the lake is so incredibly illuminating. Eckhart Tolle reminds us, “unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.” For some reason, I’m most present when I’m at the lake.
Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
I hand Larry his cup of coffee, in a different room, another home, a divergent environment. Moving towards the window overlooking my beloved patio, I return to my messianic view of life, to the sheer bliss of being part of this present, fragile, transient moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land, there is no other land, there is no other life, but this one says, Henry David Thoreau. It’s more than I deserve, more than I can fathom, more than I am able to properly explain. The best we can do is savor the momentous living concerto playing out before us, our only response, a loud and exuberant Bravo!
I’m Living in the Gap, sort of drowning without Facebook, dependent on my readers to keep me afloat. Please share on your social media accounts if you are so inspired. Looking forward to your comments below.
- •Charlotte Perkins Gilman says we all need one another, much and often.
- “Truths. Life is not easy, the sun doesn’t shine everyday, a broken heart takes time to mend, you will not succeed in everything, friends will come and go, you can not please everyone, God is with you through it all.” Jackie Griffin
- I, no event, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it. Groucho Marx
Previously published on Cheryloreglia.blog.
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Photo credit: Cheryl Oreglia