Just for a little bit of good cheer, especially in parts of the world that have not yet rounded the corner into spring, I bring you my neighborhood, right now. A week ago hardly any flowers were blooming, including on the trees.
I was taking a brief walk through my neighborhood just now, moving slow because of the heat, when I came upon a doe standing right in the middle of somebody's front yard, on a street where the houses are only perhaps 20 feet from the sidewalk. I stopped and she stopped. We looked at each other for a while. Then she turned, in no particular hurry, and squeezed through the shrubbery into the next yard. I took a few more steps and discovered her munching on some delicious daylilies growing right next to the front porch. She had orange petals hanging out the sides of her mouth as she gazed at me. After a minute or so, she began to amble towards the backyard, again not running away, just moving on.
This was on Prince Georges Ave., less than a mile as the crow flies from the boundary of Washington, D.C. proper, on a residential side street at 11:20 am. True, the street was fairly quiet at that time, though a few houses down I saw a mother, child, and large dog playing in the neighborhood park. But it made me happy to find a deer there who was so comfortable with her surroundings. I'm sure the growers of the lilies are not as happy.
I did not have my camera with me; so, here is a stock picture of a deer.
Walking is also important. Lately I have been cultivating the habit of forcing myself to go for walks. That is to say, I often have gone walking for specific reasons: transporting myself to a destination, say, or visiting a particular park or trail. But, recently, on days where I have nowhere special to go, I am forcing myself to go for walks anyway.
Generally my thoughts, as I begin to put one foot in front of the other, go something like this: My heart really isn't in this today what a waste of time I am just going through the motions but my mind is elsewhere is there really any point in forcing myself to do this when I am not really feeling it?
(For any yoga practitioners out there, you may recognize this series of thoughts. I have them before, on my way to, and during the first few minutes of almost every yoga class.)
I think this series of thoughts, interspersed with a bunch of other boring and obsessive thoughts about trivial things that are worrying me, for perhaps ten minutes or so. WhyamIdoingthisWhyamIdoingthisWhyamIdoingthis. What'sthepointWhat'sthepointWhat'sthepoint. Idon'tfeellikeitIdon'tfeellikeitIdon'tfeellikeit. And then suddenly, without having been aware of it happening, I realize that everything has already shifted. My sight feels clearer, as though I'd been peering out through a little smudged patch of a dirty window, and somebody came along and cleaned the whole window. My mind drifts back and forth between my inward thoughts (which are suddenly more expansive- calmer and more fertile at the same time) and keen attentiveness to details of my surroundings. It's best, I find, not to press either issue, but to allow my attention to move in and out, in and out. I write a lot while walking, but there's been a long time now that I have not bothered to put any of it down on paper. I hope that is going to change.