Reading and Writing

Just bought a new blank book for four bucks, and having a cuppa tea that costs about the same. Up charge for subsituting soy for dairy? Fifty-five cents! Is it just me, or is that a lot?

Still, vanilla red tea latte. It was really good. I was conscious of enjoying it, and enjoying my new red notebook. Maybe it is the sudden absence of imminent deadlines, but I have been more consciously enjoying things lately. Listening to music as I fold laundry, the feel of sleeping on freshly changed sheets, the quiet satisfaction of crossing long-delayed administrative tasks off my list, the luxury of wandering the stacks at the library with no real time constraint.

Maybe part of my consciously enjoying is in counterpoint to talking to my parents, who are going through a difficult time right now. My father has been feeling unwell for over a month now, and he is not happy about it. One of his chief complaints of late is that it feels difficult to breathe. There’s more to it than that, but the relevant bit is a conversation I had with him the other day, when he sounded miserable, and I asked him, “Is there anything left that is a respite from your suffering. Is there anything that you enjoy?” His response was that “It’s hard to enjoy anything when you can’t breathe.”

I feel very sorry for my dad right now. I can only imagine that lack of breath (although his oxygen levels are fine) would feel a little like drowning, and would be quite panic inducing, but at the same time, I can’t help but see some of his suffering comes as a result of how he has trained his mind over the years. Or how he has not. I am periodically reminded that gratitude takes practice, and that if we do not practice when things are going well, we will be ill-equipped to find it when things are not.

I wonder to myself if I would be grateful for the pleasure of sunlight on my skin if I was feeling like a couldn’t breathe? Do I feel a passing moment of gratitude now, when, running to my car in a hurry, I notice the day is beautiful, that the air touching my face is perfect? Do I feel grateful for it when I am worried about money, about jobs, about career and babies? I do, and more so when I am in the habit of doing so. Sometimes I slip out of the habit, and have to struggle to get it back. How hard would it be if I were years out of the habit?

I remember once someone–maybe it was my dad–advising me when I was a young driver and worried about driving in a downpour. There was so much rain coming down I could barely see anything. He–whoever it was–pointed out, “Your are focusing at the rain on the windshield, you have to look beyond that.” I made the adjustment, and found it helped quite a lot. I couldn’t see the world like I could when it was not raining, but I could see it well enough to drive. And that was the point. And without my preconceptions of how I wanted things to look I might even have noticed how the blurry buildings and streetlights through the sparkling rain at dusk had a beauty of their own.

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