Hafiz…This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.
I am fiercely protective of my morning rituals – watching the sky turn pink behind the dark outline of houses, trees, and hydro poles; my first cup of steaming, hot coffee; writing three pages on my foolscap pad; some yoga stretches; completing my 108 set of tai chi; my breakfast green drink; and our daily walk along the river – so when I find myself in the early hours driving along the highway to my yearly appointment, I am quiet.
On the lonely road our solitary car is zooming along; we pass utility poles that loom at us at evenly spaced intervals. On day trips we would normally sight a gathering of birds perched on the wires – red-winged black birds, crows, starlings, mourning doves or sparrows, but the dark sky hides them this early dawn (although I suspect the birds have finished their wee hour morning birdsong and will return in the daylight).
I close my eyes for a few minutes and when I reopen them the sky is beginning to pinken along the far off horizon; the subtle pinkish glow contrasts the dark blurry shapes of trees, shrubs and brush. The farm fields, one rectangle after another, are covered in hoarfrost as the last remnants of fall harvest – stubbles of corn stalks amid the tilled soil – stick out like coarse cotton threads among the white blanket. The hoarfrost is indiscriminate and has painted everything in its path.
In the light I can now sight the barrel-shaped hawks crouched in the high branches of bare-naked maples, ashes and sycamores. I am too far away and the car is moving too fast so I cannot discern if the hawks are Sharp-Shinned or Coopers. The green conifers hide other inhabitants so I am robbed of the thrill of bird identification. Tangles, thickets and brush are also hiding places. All are white this morning.
Only moments ago my husband and I were moaning about the early hour and our lack of sleep. We become silent. We watch the magnificent view and we give thanks.
When we arrive at our destination, we find that the waiting room is full. My husband who thinks ten people make a crowd opens his book and he does not lift his head for the next two hours.
I forgot my book and my Kobo is not in my bag.
The lady who is straightening the piles and piles of old magazines is intent. At first I think she is a volunteer or she is part of the staff. She hovers over the magazine piles and adds to them – used magazines that she takes out of a cheap plastic bag. She is wearing a zip up jacket that screams I Love Christmas! It is red and green with patches of Christmas stories all over it, and Rudolph’s requisite bright red nose – glowing – flaunts the middle of her chest. Her earrings are Christmas bells (of course!) and when she moves across the room, they clink and clank. When she finally takes her place beside another patient, I catch a glimpse of her socks – Christmas-themed, too. Later, she removes her Rudolph jacket to reveal another long-sleeved top and it, too, flaunts holly and berries.
(Later, on the way home, my husband comments about Christmas lady, and I say, I thought you were reading?)
Christmas lady has settled in to read one of her precious magazines, so I divert my attention. I comment aloud to no one in particular (like Shirley Valentine, I often talk to the wall) that the huge clock on the wall tells us it is 8:10. It has been 8:10 for the last half hour. Some people chuckle.
The man who is sitting beside me (who I now will forever know as man who is sitting beside me) tells me that he has been fooled by that darn clock over and over since he arrived at 7 am. Now there is a collective sigh in the room: we all realize that our doctor is at least one hour behind schedule.
Man who is sitting beside me begins to talk. I recognize the signs of a story-teller.
And so he begins..
He should be in Florida – the northern part on the side of the Gulf of Mexico – but he is waiting for a diagnosis about his wife’s health. They will not make their yearly trip to their beloved trailer in the woods by the cove. Now I sit a little straighter; I lean in. (He had me at the mention of woods and water.)
I sense a man of nature (my joy button is resonating!) and he does not disappoint me. For the next half hour he regales us about oyster catchers, plovers, terns, pelicans, cranes, and herons. They are so bossy, he says. Where we kayak in the Pineries, the herons are graceful and elegant, so I have learned something new.
His trailer is nestled in a wooded area where he and his wife enjoy the deer, bald eagles, and even black bears. I thought black bears was a Canadian thing…so I am learning more things. When I confess that I didn’t know bears lived in Florida woods, he continues to tell me about more of his sightings in his little piece of heaven. Monarch butterflies, as they return home during March and April, are abundant and loons grace the cove with their heavenly song.
Another lady interrupts his tale and adds that she saw a number of camouflage-suited men with guns along the road beside the woods on her way into the city. (Clearly, we are all out-of-towners.) Man who is sitting beside me informs us that it is deer season. (People who live in the woods by a cove know these kinds of facts.)
Interrupter lady, who is a farmer we learn, picks up the thread of his tale and she, too, talks about wildlife – foxes, deer and wolves.
The clock tells us it is 8:10.
Now the nurse yells out a name and man who is sitting beside me jumps up like he has won the lottery. Interrupter lady (the farmer) and myself and others shout Good Luck!
A new patient sits beside me and turns to me and announces that she is 89 years old and sincerely hopes that the doctor is on schedule because she has an exercise class at noon.
I laugh out loud and heads turn.
I sense she is a talker. And I am correct.
And so she begins…
Later, she pulls up her sleeve and exposes her thin arm to me and inquires, Do I know what this rash is?
I tell her that I have no idea what the rash is and that I am not a doctor.
She laughs so loud and so beautifully that all heads turn and many smile.
Many hours later on the drive home, my husband answers one of my questions, Do you mean the farmer, the man who lives in Florida for six months, or the 89-year-old lady who tried to give you shingles?
I thought you were reading?
This I know for sure…joy and reverence come in all shapes and sizes. Life is short. Look for the joy within each and every moment, whether the moment is deeply profound or mundane – a sunrise, farm fields covered in hoarfrost, a clock that perpetually marks 8:10, a room full of people waiting to see their doctor.
Joy and reverence begin in awareness; it begins in the conscious decision to be mindful. It’s how we co-create each day.
I turn to my husband and simply say, That was a good day.
It’s not over yet, he reminds me.
As the car hums along the old highway, I look around and see that the birds are perched on the wires of the utility poles.