I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Halfway through the year

Bridge at Peace Arch Park
We are already halfway through this strange Covid-19 summer. Where we are headed from here is very opaque. But this lovely scene above is not. Yesterday my friend Melanie and I drove a few miles north to the closed Canadian border to walk around Peace Arch Park. This lovely scene in the park reminds me of some places I saw in China, serene and peaceful. At first I was drawn to those incredible huge leaves, and then took in the rest of the scene, to my delight.

The Canadian government has closed the border between our countries because we have been unable to gain control over our response to the virus, and it's frighteningly out of control in many states. Our state of Washington is not doing too badly, but we still have only been able to reach four of the five criteria for being able to move to Phase 2, where we've been for weeks now. I learned today that 5% of all citizens who have tested positive with the virus in our state have died. That's not making me feel very confident that we will be returning to normal any time soon, and that whatever "normal" turns out to be will not resemble where we were in the Before Times.

This is a tough time in the history of the world. The entire population in every country is going through something unprecedented, even in those places where they have managed to get the virus under control. That is not the US, for sure. I simply cannot see what the problem is with wearing a mask, why it has become such a political statement in many places, when all it does is keep the virus from spreading. But I guess there are places that believe the virus is a hoax, perpetrated on the country by liberals. What kind of logic is that, I wonder.

Am I living through the beginning of a revolution? The division in our country is so extreme that at times I can barely recognize it. And as I get older, I wonder whether I will be around to see how it all turns out. I hope so, because it's possible I can be of some help to those around me, and they can be holding my hand (virtually, anyway) as well. It isn't helping me to feel confident as I read Mary Trump's memoir about her uncle, our President. I read until I cannot stand to know any more, and then I put the book down for awhile and turn to something distracting and nonthreatening, like a new sci-fi series, or even some old friends, like Star Trek. (The Voyager series with Captain Janeway is my favorite.)

We have finally reached the time of year in the Pacific Northwest when the rain stops and the sun shines almost every day. We will move from what I consider to be perfect weather conditions to being too hot for comfort. But it always cools down at night, since I am only a short distance away from the cooling effect of the water in Bellingham Bay and the effect of onshore flow in the winds. I love living here. When I lived in Boulder, Colorado, we had the higher elevation in our favor, but it still got way too hot in the summertime. It was part of the reason we decided to retire here, and we have not been sorry. It is so green and lush, and I get to walk around in its beauty whenever I wish, even during a short walk from my front door.

There is much to be thankful for, even during this time, if I will only point my attention in that direction, rather than bemoaning our situation and concentrating on the negativity. I will head to the coffee shop this morning and will put my lawn chair up in the shade next to my friend John, enjoying each other's company while socially distancing. Our friend Gene might join us, but he's not as much of a regular as the two of us are. After that, before it gets too hot, I'll try to walk around enough to get some steps and try to get a little exercise. If the gym was open, I'd be going there in normal times, but from what I'm reading about the risk of getting the virus in certain places, including gyms, I suspect it will be quite a while before it will be safe to go there again. I've also decided to stop getting pedicures, since nobody sees my toes anymore except me. When I was attending yoga classes in the studio twice a week, it made sense. Now in my Zoom yoga, well... you know.

Some people I know have taken this time to reassess their lives, to decide what is still important to them, and what can easily fall away. Having been an avid exerciser for most of my life, I have found that I am willing to rearrange my days in order to get at least some movement into them. Although I am no longer getting nearly as much as I'd like, there are only a few days when I don't get outdoors at all. And reading has become a staple of my days, as long as I don't overdo it and tire my eyes. Ever since I got the cataract surgery, I am able to read for longer periods as long as I use reading glasses and remember to stop and rest my eyes now and then. This getting older business takes some adjusting, but I am so happy that I can still walk, read, and use my old noggin to write a post now and then.
Of all that is good, sublimity is supreme. Succeeding is the coming together of all that is beautiful. Furtherance is the agreement of all that is just. Perseverance is the foundation of all actions. —Lao Tzu
One of the things I like to do is find a quote that ties together what I am feeling as I write a post. I went looking for one about perseverance, and I found this one by the ancient philosopher Lao Tzu. I was curious about the exact definition of the word "sublimity" here, so I went on to discover this:
The noun sublimity describes a characteristic that's a little hard to pin down. When something is sublime, it transcends greatness or beauty for the observer — like a deeply moving film or a transcendent piece of music. So when something is truly wonderful, or someone acts in a truly noble way, it's an example of sublimity. The Latin root, sublimis, means "uplifted, high, or exalted." 
Isn't it wonderful to have the accumulated wisdom of the world right here at my fingertips? I just looked up the quote, and the definition, in a few quick moments. That is another thing I am so grateful for: that I have lived long enough to enjoy and appreciate the internet as it exists today. It also gives me one other thing that I sometimes forget to appreciate: the ability to write a post and put it out into the world in an instant, like magic.

And it brings me into contact with people all over the world, my dear virtual community, that means everything to me. Even if I were trapped in my home, I'd still have a window that looks out into the universe. I feel the presence of those I will never see in person, and I feel intense gratitude. Thank you for being there.

This brings me to the end of another Sunday meditation. I do feel better after having finished it, and I will take my empty teacup into the kitchen, trying not to bother my dear partner who is still sleeping next to me as I compose this. I wish that you will have a wonderful and safe week ahead, and until we meet again, be well, dear friends.


Marie Smith said...

That setting is sublime! You have so many choices for walking and hiking. You could go somewhere different every day for months I bet. Lucky you.

Covid is changing much of the world as we know it. It amazes me how much our grandchildren know about it but their mother talks to them about the virus and the precautions of course. They are hoping to be back in school but with the latest outbreak here, small though it is yet, who knows what will happen? The uncertainty is hard to deal with. I hope a vaccine works but I fear this virus will be with us for a long time.

Meanwhile we continue our lives, walk/hike, go to the beach, shop for groceries in a social distancing way. It is easier here with so few people I suspect. I would not want to deal with this situation in a densely populated area. We are blessed really.

Rian said...

DJan, we have long given up looking to the government to tell me how to keep safe. We know what to do and will continue doing it no matter what is mandated or not mandated. As in everything else in life, we must choose our own path.
The school situation is a priority at the moment. Some will go back physically and the schools will do what they can to keep everyone safe. Some (those who are in situations where it is possible) will keep their children home. Teachers who choose to teach in their classrooms should be given hazard pay (IMO). And although it may be true that the percentage of kids that catch the virus is low, it is not 0 - and I would not take a chance with my child.
But I agree that we must take the higher road, finding joy that is still there - I find comfort in reading, cooking (this week I taught my grandson how to make chicken salad), helping DH with his puzzle, watching the feral cat play with her kittens, continuing to make face masks for friends and family, Skyping and zooming, and communicating with my online friends through these blogs. Stay safe my friend!

gigi-hawaii said...

Nice meditation today. I appreciate it. I find it hard to walk these days. David ordered a wheelchair for me. It will be here o Thursday.

Linda Reeder said...

John Denver sang the song, "Some days are diamonds, some days are stone.". While yesterday, being home, after a good night's sleep, and a visit from my son, was at least a diamond in the rough, today is certainly a stone. I hurt, and things aren't working right. The post-surgery recovery process is painful, but this too shall pass. Summer in Seattle is a good time to be stranded at home when I have my garden and my partner and my virtual friends. I can avoid the plague of COVID quite easily, and right now I certainly need to.
Tom and I did some walking at Peace Arch Park last year, when returning from a soccer match in Vancouver. It is beautiful there. How ironic that other countries are closing their borders to us instead of the other way around. How will this all sort itself out for our country and our world? I worry, but then I repress that worry in favor of just getting through each day right now.
Thanks for another good Sunday morning post. I am reaching out my hand to touch yours across the miles. I can feel you there.

Anvilcloud said...

Sublimity: I guess we both stumbled on a word today.

That was a pretty good meditation. Your dear partner must be quite a sleeper to sleep next to you as you type you a post.

Arkansas Patti said...

It is so neat that you have such magical places to visit and actually enjoy nature.
I am always flummoxed when fairly intelligent people insist that Covid is a hoax meant to take down Donald. My neighbor is convinced this will all go away after the election. Sadly I have two sisters almost on that same page. Sigh.
Delighted however that Arkansas has mandated mask wearing statewide as of Monday.

Elephant's Child said...

I am grateful to be able to join your weekly meditation each week.
Many thanks.
And yes, I am also grateful for the green and leafy loveliness in your first photo.
Stay well, stay safe.

Gigi said...

Technology is a great and wonderful thing - sadly, though there are those that knowing (or perhaps, worse, unknowingly) spread mis-information all over the internet. And some, buy it hook, line and sinker. That scares me about as much as this virus does.

Yes, when this is all over things still won't be "normal" for a long time, if ever.

I'm am so grateful to have found you in the ether and count you as one of my blessings. Have a great week seeking all the joy you can. xo

Glenda Beall said...

Your photo is inviting. I think I would like to be there. I scouted some areas around the lake here to find an outdoor area, shady and unpopulated where I might meet some friends sometime. I think we could be six feet apart and only those who are carefully following CDC guidelines would be included. I always enjoy your posts each Sunday. Thanks for being a cyber friend.

Haddock said...

It is the same situation in any country and like you mentioned the future is very opaque. Even though Emirates have promised me to hold on to my ticket for 725 days, I wonder if I will be able to travel anywhere within that period.

Red said...

I like the term you use"It's a tough time in history. Yes rebellion or civil war seems to be a possibility. It will take a great leader to come along and bring about some union.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Those are some beautiful huge leaves! They caught my eye right away! I have not watched the news for a few days...been watching Hallmark Christmas Movies:)
My opinion: If everyone wore a mask, washed their hands and social distanced as best as they could in four weeks this would be over...BUT people are just nuts out there. I hear bits and pieces...and wonder if a total shutdown in in the offing with everyone required to stay at home...except for hospitals:( It is a very scary time...stay safe!

Rita said...

Oh, I love that word, too!

I have been "trapped at home" for 16 years and I totally agree with you about the internet. What a blessing! Can chat via email or video calls, find information on almost any subject, explore the world, learn new skills, and never feel completely alone. :) It's marvelous!!

I do not understand how a pandemic became political. Never will.

Galen Pearl said...

We are definitely sisters somehow separated at birth. I LOVE Voyager. That series and Next Generation got me through some tough times.

Like you, trying to stay active and get outside. Going to take the dog for a walk right now before it gets too hot.

Thanks as always for sharing your life and thoughts with us.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, You have a wonderful ability to put your thoughts into words. When it comes to blogging you are simply the best I've found at putting that ability into action with your posts. I love what you said about the Northwest. "We have finally reached the time of year in the Pacific Northwest when the rain stops and the sun shines almost every day. We will move from what I consider to be perfect weather conditions to being too hot for comfort." As I sit here typing on this Monday, July 20th, afternoon, your words fit perfectly. With clear blue skies it is beautiful but with 85 degrees it is too warm to be comfortable without air conditioning. As you reflected on your move from Colorado I'm very happy you ended up in Bellingham AND that I got lucky enough to find your blog. Thanks for publishing Eye on the Edge! And thank you for your kind comments on my blog. Have a great week ahead! John

William Kendall said...

It is a difficult time.

Tabor said...

Another of your nice and peacful posts that make me realize why reading my bloggers posts is a good thing.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, just a brief comment on your thought about our possibly being in a new revolution. My reading of several books about the American Revolution has sharpened my understanding of how they happen and what they portend. Also, why the American Revolution--from independence from Britain to a new form on constitutional government--is so different from the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. The book I'm listening to right now truly puts the years 1774-1789 in perspective for me. It's helping me see where "Black Lives Matter" might lead us. The book is by the esteemed historian Joseph Ellis: "American Creation."

Thanks once again for your drawing me back to gratitude. Peace.

Madeline Kasian said...

Astrology may seem frivolous to some,especially now, but in my family of astrologers, it has always been a way to understand cycles, and events and turning points. America is in the midst of a “PLUTO RETURN..” This is a “before and after” cycle.. Pluto blows up the old ways and institutions, and makes space for rebirth.It’s like a forest fire, not in a pleasant way, A purging,for sure. The planets in the sky are in the same alignments they were in during..wait for it.... The Revolutionary War, The Civil War, and World War Two. Does history repeat? i think so.

Think about how America changed directions and how society responded during those times and we will get a picture of what’s next for America. Indeed, a time of pivotal shift. Society will likely never be the same.Many institutions will look very different (education, health care..)

America is a very young country and it appears our “first run” as leader of the free world and a place of rugged individualism, is about expired. WHAT WILL WE BE NEXT??? I am not even sure I will want to live here!!

Our grown son has a state pension in a few years and is looking into retirement in a more laid back environment with nature,water, and a less expensive,less consumer oriented lifestyle.. he is looking into Puerto Vallarta area, some small fishing villages near there that places we have visited and enjoy.. maybe we’ll follow??

I enjoyed your meditation, the lush green photo (I live in the desert!) and the poem/quote on perseverance. I am surprising myself with how antsy I have become..,I thought i would be ok with this shut down, but I am having days of great sadness and feeling so housebound. Getting out in nature helps immensely. We can learn a lot about areas of our own soul/personalities, that need some honing,during times like these. (I know I am ,anyway...) Never too old to improve!