Forgetting comes easily. It’s remembering that takes effort.
I’ve been backsliding lately, and as a result of this, have had to re-school myself on my own philosophy, and the recurring theme of this blog.It’s just too easy, as we all know, to lose track of the smaller, more important things in life. How many times have you heard the phrase, “Stop and smell the flowers?” How many times do you actually stop and smell them?
You should try it. Trust me, smelling an actual flower and looking at a picture of one in your Tumblr feed are not the same.
Now, I don’t read a lot of poetry, but while looking at one of my own photographs from yesterday, the phrase Leaves of Grass kept popping into my head. So, what did I do? Well, like any other average modern human I didn’t go to my bookshelf and take down a copy of Walt Whitman’s 1900 book of poetry, no, I Googled Whitman to find Leaves of Grass. These lines are from the first poem I read, To the Garden of the World:
Curious, here behold my resurrection, after slumber; The revolving cycles, in their wide sweep, have brought me again, Amorous, mature—all beautiful to me—all wondrous…
At age 41, Whitman understood the cycles of renewal that keep us alive and thriving. Leaves of Grass is actually not about nature but about the human body, and Whitman probably wrote it while feeling the effects of middle age. Trust me, I can relate. But its tone resonates with me all the same, even on another level, and like all good poetry, it can mean different things to different readers.
So where is all this going? We're headed outdoors, of course.
I have recently allowed myself to get too caught up in my own day-to-day routine. I have, in a sense, completely forgotten what the flowers smell like. Yet, fall is in the tropical air, the ocean is too flat for surfing, and the lake was calling yesterday, so out I went to feel again the revolving cycles in their wide sweep. Thank you Mr. Whitman.
I am always happier paddling my canoe quietly through lily pads than I am tapping away on a keyboard, so as soon as the weather cools a bit, I like to check in on how the lake residents are doing. I actually made two excursions into the lake: one right after work on Friday, and the second one on Saturday morning. Friday afternoon was windy, the breeze coming up from the south to greet an approaching cold front. I was surprised to see how cautious and agitated the birdlife was. Photographing them was frustrating work, as my canoe was not cooperating in the stiff southern breeze, and they often flew off just as I turned to focus on them
Saturday’s paddle-out was a different story. The front was slipping in quietly, the wind was lighter and drier and from the opposite direction, and the birds were preoccupied with breakfast. Although the alligators seemed grumpy and were quick to duck under and get away, the morning magic was working perfectly on everything else, including me.
I have a cousin who lives in rural New York who completely understands the importance of this and has turned her life energy into an outward daily expression of art and life’s many joys. Her enthusiasm is contagious. I also know a guy who loves to fish. His passion for the ocean and being on it is unchanged, day after day, regardless of whether he catches anything (but he usually does).
They both help to remind me that the dull parts in life are easy to remember. So, take your shoes off and go for a walk on the beach. Rent a paddleboard for the day. Play some tennis. Stop and smell the flowers.
I have the windows open. A cool breeze from the north is blowing through the house, and as I write this, I can hear the Ospreys calling to one another as they spin high above the lake.
October 21st, 2012