After spending so much time bitching about the heat, and having it last for so much longer than usual, I find myself today feeling melancholy about the end of summer. Eric is hiking with the dogs, and I’m trying to not feel too sorry for myself that by the time I can go with, the aspens will have dropped all their leaves. I was at the grocery store this morning and noticed that they had de-icer, ice scrapers, and snow shovels on display. Ringo will turn two years old in another few months, the day after I turn 48. It’s all going by so fast.
A few weeks ago, at the last minute and not knowing how I was going to fit it into my schedule, I signed up for Laurie Wagner’s online Wild Writing class. I’ve taken an online class with Laurie before, (Telling True Stories), and been lucky enough to do a few sessions of Wild Writing in person with her, sitting at the long wooden table in her dining room at 27 Powers. It’s a particular kind of magic, that place and that person and that practice. To say it’s transformative doesn’t even begin to explain it. Now that I’m back at it, I can’t believe I waited so long. As much as I do to be present and awake and engaged, this practice in particular makes me come alive.
Last week, one of the prompts Laurie shared was by one of my favorite poets, Maya Stein, a poem called “How to be Happy in Tiny Slices.” Maya has a way of writing an ending, a final line, a last moment that breaks the whole poem wide open, every time, and this poem is no different. I liked what I wrote in response to the prompt, a messy start to something or simply a glimpse of something passing, and wanted to share it with you, kind and gentle reader.
How to be happy in tiny slices: Feel the pop of the cherry tomato and taste the warm sour sweet of its juice. Notice the tiny yellow birds, pause to watch them knowing they are rarely still enough to allow themselves to be seen. Slide the mala beads between your fingers, noticing how they go from cold to warm in the heat of your hand. Halfway through, when the words of the mantra no longer make any sense at all, translate them to what you need, like on the dark mornings when the only thing that works is “it’s okay, I’m okay, everything is okay,” even when it’s not. Taste a fresh peach, the tart bright sweetness, knowing it won’t last, that even the very next bite of the exact same peach won’t taste the same. Remember all those that will never taste another peach or cherry tomato and how weird it is to be human and never really know which one will be your last bite, and how tender and sad it is, that hope that the last bite, if it’s to be the last bite, be sweet. Feel the way the sun warms his fur, smell that spot on the top of his head, remember what it was like when he was just a baby, at the same time you know how awful it will be when he goes. Sit in the sun. Be still. Be quiet. Breathe. Move, as Osho says, the way joy makes you move. Sleep, put clean sheets on the bed, take a shower and put on clean pajamas — but wait, I said that all backwards, didn’t I? So next would be to wake up, and when you wake up, get up. Stretch. Drink some water. Meditate. Light the candles. Turn down the lights, get a blanket for your lap, make sure you have your favorite pen, put one word in front of the other. Forgive them, let it go, start over. And when you find yourself confused, off track, stuck in a dream or caught up in a feeling, let go and come back.