As an evolving writer, I subscribe to numerous internet sources of encouragement. Strangers fling topics via Twitter in an attempt to thwart writer’s block and instigate imagination. Despondently, I offer that I can’t work this way. Having an unknown entity tweet about “ice cream” and then offer the inspired directive of “Now go write!” just doesn’t send waves of profound thought through my mind.
On this occasion I am too cerebral and too tired to create anything from something unrelated to me. This is not to say that I do not enjoy stumbling upon random, unrelated thoughts of my own to weave together into something cogent.
Tonight as I watch the sunset turn my outside view into subtle hues of cayenne, olive, and heather, I am feeling the slightest chill on my bare shoulders and accepting that the fading summer invites the resurrection of ritualistic bath time – a fall and winter benchmark. So tonight, we explore the Remains of the Day and Rebirth...because we can and why not?
Years ago I remember a particularly late night struggling through a college paper, fighting for inspiration and for the ability to stay awake and finish it. We find encouragement in the oddest places, and in that moment I self-soothed by assuring myself that ‘nothing in life will ever be that hard’ again. What I wouldn’t give now to regain the simplicity of those days. Though, as I tell my children on the occasions of their insistence that they are correct in a given situation, “I was as smart as I ever was at the time”.
Equally equipped and burdened with the souvenir of experience, I now recognize that complexity and pandemonium are talismans that graciously accompany age and family. The key to the city is knowing how to breathe it all in at the end of the day and feel appreciative and renewed. I worked with an older gentleman many years ago, who by all appearances had a less than charmed life, but you could no more than hand that man a pen and he would look you in the eye and say, not a colloquial ‘Thank you’, but “I’m appreciative”. And I believe that in every instance he was. Somewhere in his life he learned the value of gratitude; that everything, down to the pen he was handed by another, could be taken away and he was not going to miss an occasion to express his gratefulness for what he did have.
Some days we know enough to give thanks for grass, and sunlight, and for turtles that take their time crossing the road in front of our cars forcing us to stop and just watch their journey. Other days we ache for bedtime to shove one day out of the way and shepherd in the next. Years ago, around the Thanksgiving table, we all shared the treasured things for which we were thankful. When the gratitude soliloquies came around to my youngest daughter, then about 3, she said “I am thankful for doors”. We all laughed but have since humbly valued the promise of our many doors to keep out critters and keep in heat! Every Thanksgiving since, we have never failed to acknowledge our gratitude for doors as homage to the recognition of the uncomplicated. Not so simple a thought after all.
My landscape has vanished behind the veil of night, the prolific mosquitoes are beginning to give up their pursuit, and the cool air forces me to slip a blanket over my shoulders. I am grateful for the sweet summer that is now passing before my eyes. New England is awe-inspiring. Effervescent summers and radiant falls offer a reprieve that gives its inhabitants the potency they will need to prepare and thrive in the winter ahead. One more day passes and drags with it an opportunity for acknowledgement of our abundance - one less chance to see a silver lining. Life is many things, but mostly … it is short.