Happiness Is…

Sometimes what appear to be frustrating obstacles turn out to be gifts to a deeper understanding. This long weekend was just that for me. Struggling with WiFi data issues and reduced access to the Internet for the better part of two weeks, I was determined to get last Sunday’s 365 Week in Review out – even without the visual quote boards published on the blog. Part way into last week, I was bucking the tide until I just stopped. It seemed there was more at stake than an unfulfilled commitment to my newsletter Flyer and to my fellow Free Spirits.

So I did what I would advise anyone else to do in the face of similar ‘obstacles’, I stopped. Athan was away on conference and I just shut down the computer and closed the door. Time to unplug completely. Be silent. Be alone. Be introspective. Be contemplative. Be aware. Be present – not to all I wasn’t doing but to what I actually was doing. To just be with my Self. To listen to my heart and to tell my mind, so good at ticking off the ‘to do’ list, to be quiet. Save it. Tell me later.

I meditated, went for walks and had an extraordinary sequence of synchronicities that led be to one book and then another and another filling in blanks, expanding my understanding, offering entirely new perspectives. It was a numinous time – full of wonder and deeper respect for my time and how I use it. And what my purpose is and why I write.

For one thing I write because I love to read. One of the books mentioned in the introduction of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was from 1822, Frances Wright, friend of Thomas Jefferson wrote about Epicurus and the simple pursuit of happiness in “A Few days in Athens”. Then I delved into “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington about the third metric and how the wealthy and successful must seek a more sustainable lifestyle. Books have changed my life and I hope that some will say that about mine. But as my marketing guru Lisa McKenzie, commented mine is not one in ten thousand books, it is one in ten million. Hence the burnout of the weeks past trying to be relevant or visible or heard in the cacophony of the Internet. We know that merit is ‘way down the list of criteria in our media dominated world, but at the same time, it is an awesome opportunity to connect in real time with kindred souls.

Anyway, I untied the tether around my ankle that social media has become and paused. I stepped out of the river of likes and tweets with nuggets of wisdom randomly cast in the spillage of nonsense and noise.

I went instead to visit the pomegranate tree in our yard and inspected the pregnant bulge behind the dwindling blossom that was just days ago a rhapsody of bright orange. It’s neighbouring apricot so full this time last year is fallow – taking its own breath. Bead sized lemons and marble sized pears bounce in the breeze off the sea. The figs are clustered amidst the splayed green leaves.

Green-mittened almonds will wait until we find out when and how to harvest the nut from the pod. The riot of wild calendula with swaying golden heads that just last month was a sunlit glow has died back now, spilling its seeds into the dry ground where they will wait through the heat of summer for the winter rains. Graceful oleander and fluorescent bougainvillea are the summer blooms now that the morning glories no longer rise pale pink into the morning sun.  Creeping along in round carpets the capers with delicate feathery flowers remind me it is time to pick and pickle. Iberis (candytuft) is always sweet to the butterflies.

The cats play in the yard after breakfast and the gypsy cockerel visits several times a day and crows intermittently at odd hours from whosever’s yard he is in calling out for love. I have found feathers in the yard between the almond trees. At first I found black ones with white tips. Then the ones I hoped I would not find. Taupe, the colour of the mourning dove. Why is one sadder to me than the other? Since Athan told me the cats caught a bird (I forgive rats), I have listened to the mourning doves, which live in the pines bordering our wall. They are part of our little social order. Since we have lived here I have heard them cordially call to each other all day long. At times they have perched one and then the other on the rail of the balcony and wondered what I was doing there. Now, I hear one coo and then I pause to hear the answer, but I have not this week. Doves mate for life and I am sad that this lonely one calls out from the thick branches, calls out from the top of our antennae, calls out as he swoops down perplexed to the ground where the feathers lie and does not hear an answer.

I don’t blame the cats. Yes, I know I said that already. They are wild and while we feed them and care for them, they are skittish and not domesticated at all. I have named them finally, much to Athan’s disdain. They are not pets after all. But seeing a family, mother and five (remaining of seven) kittens as they mature in a safe environment is a rare experience. They are cooperative, playful, gentle and I might even say kind to one another. They even hunt as a team and leave thoughtful gifts for our guests.

Speaking of guests, the traditional hand embroidered Greek sheets have dried on the line and I have ironed them thinking of the pleasure they give to those who visit and I am content and replenished these days seeing what is before my own eyes and in being reminded that happiness is in the simple pleasures. There is order and ebb and flow in our life and when we drop into that simple awareness, life gets so much easier … and well, happy.

Me agapi (with love),

Marilyn

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