Saturday, January 25, 2014

Lately: Meditations on "Instructions for Living a Life"

"Instructions for living a life. 
Pay attention. 
Be astonished. 
Tell about it."
-Mary Oliver 

Lately, I'm astonished by the bright white reflection of winter light on snow-streaked peaks. By the comfort to be found in the most mundane of chores. By warm, soapy dishwater, with its honeysuckle scent. By a harbinger hint of spring in the temperate breeze wafting through the open patio door. 

Lately, I'm astonished by my intense pleasure in solitude, by the absolute necessity of silence. By subtle messages from the universe telling me to read and write, read and write, with an intensity I've not felt in awhile. By the way a piece of literature can take my breath away, and not give it back for days. 

Lately, I'm astonished to discover the comfort with which I'm approaching my 30th year. By the strange way that, as I age, I seem to be circling ever closer to the truth, and by the relief I feel in my own skin, the ease I find in my own mind. I'm astonished by the way my capacity for joy seems to be inversely proportional to the degree to which I care what other people think of me, and the fact that the former seems to be winning these days. By my faint jolt of surprise when I see a woman across the room who looks like someone I'd like to know, realizing in the same millisecond it's my own reflection I see. Realizing too that I do, in fact, know her. And that I like her too.

I'm astonished by how the mountains feel like home to me. By the kinship I feel with specific beams of sun as they funnel and spread their mellow gold through the foliage of an old pine. By a sear of nostalgia that knocks me senseless, triggered by the most ordinary of things: the slant of a roof on a ramshackle cottage, a certain chord in a radio tune, a peony in a vase. By the nagging certainty that I've lived these moments before and perhaps will live them again. By the possibility that I won't.

Lately, I am paying attention.

Lately, I am astonished indeed.

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