Right in the midst of early Covid hysteria, I bought a blowup hot tub in spring 2020 at a 100% markup compared to the price a month earlier. Even so, it was a good investment, and I’ve gotten my money’s worth, which is more than I can claim for most 3 figure (or more) purchases. I tend to make the best use of it on Saturdays when I don’t have anything to rush to, and such was the case one bright July morning that summer. As I soaked, relaxed, head back, gazing up at the sky, I was struck by the contrast of the tall maples’ vibrant green leaves against the perfectly clear deep blue sky, and red flowers pouring over the hedge from a tree in the next yard. I stopped and noticed flying insects buzzing around the red flowers, solely focused on their presence, and perceived joyful tones in the birds chirping – so many, and so loud. I realized as I was appreciating it all that just seconds before – though equally present and real – none of it had even registered in my preoccupation in swirling thoughts. What a waste! Why did I let myself get so distracted by worries, ego-driven scripts about conversations I did not – and will never – have, so many what if’s and if only’s? For some reason Genesis, the Adam and Eve story, came to me that morning as an analogy of the experience:
So there they are with everything and more in that beautiful garden – perfectly overly accommodated – and what happens? They wreck it all with their own head spinning, their own what if/if onlys, “Hmm, why should He not want us to eat that apple? Maybe we need that…” Sitting there soaking in my hot tub, I decided to start to live the lesson. All I needed in that moment was in front of me, there to enjoy and appreciate. I leaned back, smiled to the point of giggling at the lovely bird noise, registered the color contrasts around me, and tuned into the light and large feeling in my heart, I thought, “Thank you! This is real right here – Living Eden! I’m going to make myself get good at this. …”
Well, I can’t claim to have incorporated the lesson fully almost a year and a half later. After all, I’ve got a lot to stress over, and plenty of distraction to take on and deal with. But just this past Saturday, I did go outside to enjoy a crisp fall Saturday morning soak in the hot tub. I got in and noticed leaves floating around, so I cleaned them out. I noted adjustments needed on the pump and checked the chlorine. I turned on the bubbles to stir things around so I could use the skimmer to catch the debris I noticed, and let out water to bring it precisely to the right level… Then I stopped myself – these are not the things the hot tub is intended for…. I sat back, took a deep breath… and I remembered an email I should have sent, and issues needing follow up at work… but out of the corner of my eye (and my distracted brain) I caught the movement in a high oak tree of a bird hopping from one branch to another…
And then I stopped for real. … I became newly aware of the beautiful loud music of so many birds around me. I chuckled watching squirrels running up and down tree trucks, jumping to and from twigs as thin as dried angel hair, all 150 feet above my head. I registered the fall light, struck by the beauty of the yellow maple leaves and red oaks against the blue sky background. … and I remembered “Living Eden,” and I stopped and let myself feel filled and happy … and before letting the distracting thoughts sneak in, I reminded myself that rather than all the spinning in my head, this here in front of me is what is real.
Back in the house, a couple of hours later, I was alone in the kitchen when a muffled moan from behind a closed door upstairs summoned me. Fortunately (I guess), it was repeated louder. “Mooom! What can I eat? Can you make me something?” … Heavy sigh. I made breakfast for my teenage lastborn, and called him down. He entered the kitchen tousled and sleepy.
“Wow, look at that. The light is so nice outside.” He observed. I looked out, noted and appreciated it (for real), and then looked back at him. I registered (and smiled at) his amazing curls; and aware again of that same large feeling in my heart, I offered up mental “Thank you – this here is what’s real,” and felt very happy.
Happy Thanksgiving. May you notice and feel joy in the blessings that surround you this week!