When I arose just after six this morning, my living room was pink. The white sheer window shades allowed the sky’s dawn to enter in all its glory. The pink had saturated the walls and ceiling and when I scrunched my eyes, I am almost certain that even the air was pink.
But the rosy glow didn’t last long, and by the time I turned away from the screen door as I watched the sky’s pink palette, the magic had disappeared in my living room.
I never get tired of the show. It’s the reason I am an early riser.
The sunrise and the sunset of each day are gifts – gifts that bookend each of my days. The simple ritual of breathing in the dawn’s glory, and hours later, breathing out the dusk allows me to make a mental realignment.
A realignment that grounds me. I become centered, focused on living mindfully. My bookends allow me to be present, in awareness: to stop and listen to the sparrows and wrens that live within the branches of the viburnum (that should be pruned, but I don’t want to disturb their homes); to pause when the Harbor Bay bell that hangs from the shed that my father built us twenty years ago, gongs – a gong that resonates so beautifully that no matter who is in the yard, they stop and savour the sound; to kneel beside a resident in the long-term care home where I volunteer, to listen deeply, and witness her story.
My mind is cluttered with thoughts throughout the hours – mindfulness does not eliminate them. But the practice allows me to align them – to at least put some order to them.
I’m aware of the big questions in life: Who am I? What do I want? What is my purpose?
And mindfulness allows me compassion for myself and those thoughts that consume me – never-ending thoughts, like books stuffed in a bookcase – piled high, teetering on chaos.
Mindfulness allows me to peruse the titles: Nature, Family, Aging and Disease, Death, Creativity, Art, Writing, and more. The shelves are crammed.
Mindfulness allows me to be the observer – detached, yet alert. I notice the thoughts that often consume me when I am walking. I write in my head, stories that I discard later or save to paper. I draw in my head. Water and the elements of nature are a never-ending, repetitive meme. What colour is that blue? I must learn how to use watercolours. OMG, is that sky not the most beautiful thing ever? The pink of that canna lily reminds me of the shawl that we bought my mother one Christmas – the same shawl that my sister now wraps around her shoulders during meditation.
The observer within me embraces all of the subtitles: envy, judgment, inadequacy. (I own the series of all of those subtitles.)
But here’s the thing: mindfulness allows me to recognize the two prevailing themes that underline all of my thoughts. Love and fear. Thankfully, this life-transforming strategy opens my heart to self-care and compassion – self-care and compassion lead to gratitude, joy, love and acceptance.
Acceptance means that I recognize the thoughts that I have – of envy, judgment, inadequacy – I recognize the titles, I thumb through a few pages, and then I discard them. Enough. Life is too short to read the book. Instead, I recognize the fear and I just sit with it. I have learned to trust that soon those thoughts will disappear.
Thoughts are transitory; impermanent; illusions.
The joy that I experienced this morning while in the pink glow will return tonight when I experience the sky as the sun disappears.
Tonight. Tomorrow morning. Tomorrow evening.
The jumble of thoughts and all its disorder and chaos will realign itself. I will re-set.
And it is this re-set that reassures me that all is well. I am. Cluttered mind and all.
Whether I need to re-set multiple times throughout the hours (and that is inevitable), or I simply observe the thoughts, I learn to accept the moment. Whether the books are jumbled or the tomes are straight and orderly – I am content to be in my skin (and in my mind).
I have learned that if I am not content…I wait. My thoughts will dissipate and new ones will replace them.
The library in my mind is ever-changing.
Sunrise, sunset. Bookends. Gifts.