After Forsyth Park Farmers Market-ing Saturday morning, Robert and I were walking home, minding our own business, when out of the blue, the Universe spoke to me again. (A fairly common occurrence these days.)
“It’s the end of October,” I thought. “Isn’t it a little late for hydrangeas to still be blooming?” But glancing up and down the row of bushes, I noticed that all the other hydrangeas were NOT blooming, except for this LONE, stubborn survivor.
I was mesmerized, the bloom just SO very June fresh.
“It’s rude to stare,” she interrupted my thoughts, a bit offended.
“Sorry, I didn’t meant to stare. But I’m floored to see you here when all of your … your brothers and sisters are … are less than alive.” (My awkward attempt to avoid further rudeness.)
“May I ask why you ARE still here?” I timidly wondered.
Her demeanor shifted, and she smiled the tiniest of smiles.
“I suppose you can, but I’ll let Frost answer for me.”
The woods are lovely dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
I walked home with lively, renewed fervor in my step.
Now that youth is a far distant memory, and I’m just a couple of months away from turning … from turning … from turning … 70, I’d like to instruct anybody who ever points a camera (well, phone—does anybody use a camera any more ?) in my direction. Here are 10 foolproof suggestions.
1. Take my picture in the snow.
2. Have me get on a giant bed.
3. Let me hold my unicorn.
4. Have me stand on a bridge over troubled waters.
5. Incorporate mirrors.
6. Have me sit in a house with one window.
7. Make the best of focus.
8. Have me sit far away from the paparazzi.
9. Let me hold my big bird.
And 10. Push me in the pool.
There you go. No close-ups. Simple and easy.
Okay, I’m joking. I love my age and where I am in life.
At a recent session, my therapist, attempting to get me a bit more grounded in reality, gave me an assignment: “Neal, why don’t you try to come up with a few REALISTIC affirmations about areas of your life where you would like to see meaningful improvement?” (Interpretation: what I tell myself maybe isn’t always rooted in actuality. Hmm, I don’t see what’s wrong with “Tonight is my turn to win Powerball.”)
Here’s one I came up with: “I love today. I love right now. Well, maybe I don’t exactly love today or love right now, but I am glad I have a today and a right now to have positive or negative feelings about.”
And although I don’t really like this next one, I appreciate its realistic groundedness: “I own it all—Everything I’ve ever done. Because there is no do-over button for life.” (But I do wish Apple would just go ahead and create one.)
But yesterday my buddy Mark texted me a quote which is SO much more intelligent and effective than my “no do-over” affirmation …
Have you done so this holiday? Blessings come in SO many forms and dressings. I urge you to take a sheet of paper and number your joys. Here is a sampling of mine:
1. I had to miss my seven year-old grandson Daniel’s first piano recital earlier this week. (I was SO frustrated.) Tonight at my family’s early Christmas dinner, I walked in the door and daughter Amy had arranged for Daniel to dress back up in his Calvin Klein suit and play Jingle Bells (as he did at the recital). It melted my heart.
(Okay, I’m not sure about the sunglasses either.)
(Absolute grandfather joy.)
Here’s Daniel at the actual recital:
2. The ability to smell Christmas.
3. Enjoying the power of silly.
4. Hosting a Holiday and Hot Toddy Chili Party Saturday night.
Good buddies Ellie, Jamie and Brennan.
I read “A Cup of Christmas Tea” to the twenty-something guests–and asked them to think about a person important in their upbringing to toast at the end of the story. I urge you to do the same. Who encouraged you along your way?
“Let’s raise a cup of Christmas cheer, to family and loved ones far and near.”
So take a few moments, and with Bing, count your blessings:
5. Tree shadows on a wall during a walk the other night.
What are a few of your Holiday Blessings? Come on, share a few.
Yes I admit it, I’m an optimist. Pollyanna’s a very good buddy. We took tap dancing together.
What I mean is I’m USUALLY a somewhat cheery person. But not always. A while back, I underwent a fairly unpleasant medical procedure. (I’m a big baby when it comes to anything that hurts at a .5 or higher on a 1-10 pain level.)
Here I am in the waiting room, reading about blogging:
Finally I was called back to the procedure room but had to wait in solitude quite a while. The doctor was running behind. I got bored and started playing with the IPhone’s reverse camera capability:
I looked at these pictures, grimaced at their muted and otherworldly haziness, realized I wasn’t smiling–and started to delete them.
Then it hit me.
Get real, Neal. It’s okay not to smile. It’s okay to be muted and hazy … and to be by yourself for a while.