Wednesday, November 20, 2013

ISO Joy

Late Tuesday afternoon (early evening) I was sitting in the den looking out the window at a beautiful fall sky and the reflection of the sun setting in windows of Baltimore's First Church of Christ Scientist (a structure built in 1911 by local architect, Charles E. Cassell), when I decided to take a leisurely walk to the local Starbucks for a hot chocolate.

For some reason, stepping outside seemed like a real treat. The sky at dusk appears so peaceful, and this evening was no different. There were just a few blackbirds flying above me. There was very little sound, other than a few passing cars on occasion, and people were scarce, just a jogger or two and the random person getting out of a car.

I walked down the street through my lovely neighborhood of Tuscany-Canterbury, toward Johns Hopkins University, and over to Charles Village.  It was near JHU when I realized I had forgotten my phone and my camera.  I can live without my phone – well, now I can because a certain person has stopped calling (you know who you are, but I digress) – but my camera?  No way!

I’m never without my faithful gadgets, ready to take a photograph at a glance. On occasion, I’m known for maybe enjoying a chat or texting to my Twitter account, but not today. No, this would not be that type of walk.  It was about the now, living in the moment, appreciating all that was around me and in me – deep, palpable thoughts of love and loss, hope and despair, and forgiveness too – learning from a recent experience that real love, true unconditional love, has the power to heal all wounds, creating a stronger and more resilient relationship (regrettably, you are weak, my dear sweet friend, but I cherish you nevertheless, and miss you with each passing day).

I didn’t allow my delving into critical thinking to eclipse what I perceive to have been a joyful walk because it didn’t stop me from using mental imagery to capture snapshots of some of the most exquisite trees in my neighborhood.

Before my eyes I was witnessing the passing of a season.  Leaves covered many of the sidewalks and lawns, and more and more trees were losing leaves, a few almost bare, naked and revealed, but even those trees are remarkably beautiful.

Those winter trees will keep me company during my many walks until spring’s return.  The stark shapes are elegant in their own way, but sinister too.  They remind me of holidays to come, and I can’t wait to see their silhouettes against the snow-covered ground and a rich blue sky.  Talk about magical! 

I must admit it took me a few seconds to adjust to not having a camera, especially after seeing a line of bright red maple trees. I was tempted to go back home, but no, I passed the test and knew I would be just fine.

The message was clear that winter is on its way, observing students dressed with sweaters, scarves and hats. I was almost sorry I didn’t bring mine, but I was warm enough in my hoodie.

I finally made it to Starbucks, and the line was long, but I didn’t mind waiting.  I actually enjoyed bantering with a few students, and laughing too.  It was all good fun.

I truly enjoyed my walk, appreciating that which was right before my eyes, the world with its many people, places and things. There were positive observations (a man helping another unload a truck, a couple holding hands, nuzzling up to each other as they walked hand and hand, thriving in the moment), and of course there was the negative (people driving while talking on the their cell phones and one irritating woman who laid on the horn because someone was in the middle of the crosswalk as she was attempting to make a turn – I was more appalled by the woman in the car because it was apparent her anger was misplaced and had nothing to do with the walker, but her unhappiness in life).

I took a detour to the neighborhood hardware store and then to Giant for a few food items. As usual, I got more than I needed; hence, take some advice and don’t go to the store on an empty stomach.

At this point I was in the neighborhood of Waverly. By then darkness had fallen.  I noticed a large old oak tree that had lost its leaves and was casting shadows against a few buildings. It stood there majestically in the distance against a deep dark blue sky with a moon as bright and brilliant as a diamond. It was picturesque, especially with hundreds of blackbirds flying above me.

It was hard taking my eyes off the sky, especially with the birds in flight. Theirs was a masterful dance, diving and soaring nonstop, but then landing on the tips of the tree branches. I was entranced and could have watched them forever.

It was finally time for me to head back home. I decided to walk through a few more neighborhoods (Oakenshaw and Guilford), down streets with very little light. This was the perfect time to look up and enjoy the moon even more. It overshadowed the stars, but not the planet Venus, which was in the east beckoning for my attention, and rightfully so. (There is so much we’ve yet to discover in a universe of wonder.)

Another treat
admiring the homes in Guilford, peering in windows from a distance and seeing them exquisitely decorated. It almost sounds naughty, but it was innocent enough.

As I reflected on my walk I was thinking about the impending holiday of Thanksgiving, more specifically the word, 'thanks'. There are so many people this year who will find it hard to be thankful, much of this has to do with illness, not having a job, economic strife, family members living far away, etc.

However, we must step outside ourselves to look at the big picture to find the truest reasons to rejoice and be thankful. It really is basic and oh, so simplistic. I’ve had my challenges like the next person, but I can always look up and out and say without any hesitation, I am thankful for another breath of life – that I can touch the sky (not physically, but with my heart and emotion). I am grateful that I can communicate never needing a camera or phone, but with words in my mind, felt from the heart, from fingertip to keyboard and out through a portal that advances what is my deepest purpose (and should be yours too), to spread the message of hope not fear, love not hate, forgiveness not contempt and punishment. More than anything, I am thankful for friends who have my back, and one in particular.

It was a nice evening and no gadgets were required. I think I might try this more often. Unglue yourself from the devices and join the world in real time.  I found my joy, and I hope you found yours too on this cold November day.  Continue to thrive, my friends.  Cheers! – paerki

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Share your views, thoughts and opinions in the written word. Snap photographs so that your eyes can travel back in time, remembering the happy and sad moments that made you the person you were, are and became in life. But, whenever possible, capture video to enhance the memories you leave behind, so that others may pass the essence of your life on to future generations.

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"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." - Susan B. Anthony

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