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, October 17, 2021

Local Aurora Borealis

Kyle Stitt captured this last Monday

Five days ago, we who live in the Pacific Northwest, were treated to a display of the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. I found this picture on Facebook's group, Seeing Bellingham. We had clear skies that night, and of course I was fast asleep but read about it the next morning and learned about the spectacle after the fact.
The Aurora Borealis is caused by the interaction between the sun and the earth’s atmosphere, according to the National Weather Service. Electrically charged particles called ions are emitted from the sun and move outward in a stream of plasma, which is called the solar wind. When the plasma comes into contact with the earth’s magnetic field, some ions become trapped and interact with the earth’s atmosphere. This causes them to glow, which is the same principle that makes a neon sign light up (king5.com).

 It made the local news, and I heard about it at the coffee shop the next morning, but I myself have never seen such a display. People who live in Alaska see them all the time, but it's quite rare to happen around here, at Bellingham's 48.75° latitude.

Since that time, most nights have been overcast and we've gotten quite a lot of rain, nothing to see here. It also went from very cold to almost balmy in comparison. We do get our fair share of weather events, but so far we have not had a freeze. I feel very fortunate to have retired in such a place, with mostly mild temperatures year round, and lots of green forests that thrive in this environment.

*  *  *

On my other blog, I posted a few pictures of the injury to my left eye socket, and now, more than a week later, the bruising is almost all gone, except for the area underneath the eye, which is very much better but still rather strange looking, for an old woman to have such a bruise. It is pretty much covered up by my mask, so unless I'm drinking my coffee, it's covered and no one notices.

One thing about being elderly, I also realize that not many people look my way for any length of time. It's true what they say about becoming invisible when you get to a certain age. When I was a young woman, I turned heads and remember how much I enjoyed the attention. Now that it's gone, I don't really mind. Every phase of life has its benefits and disadvantages. 

I have recently begun a daily meditation practice, remembering once again all those years when I sat twice a day, many decades ago. I lived in Boulder, Colorado, back then, and there was a very active Buddhist community, with plenty of places to attend meditation practice. I can still remember coming home from work and being so glad to be able to relax on my meditation cushion for a half hour or so. It made all the difference in my busy life. 

One thing that I find curious is how easily I have slipped into it once again. Apparently, the mental processes I developed at that time are still here. I used a mantra in those days, and I might do that once again, but for now I am watching my breath, counting them to 10 and starting over. At first I just sat and allowed the time to pass, thinking that 15 or 20 minutes would be difficult, but a couple of times I didn't stop then and lost track of time. So now I use a timer, with a dainty chime when the time is over.

Although it's only been a couple of weeks, I can already feel that I am drawn to the gentle quiet that takes over my mind when I point it in one direction. It also keeps me from stressing too much over the state of the world, especially my own country and its challenges. Although I am still reading several newspapers every day, on my laptop I can choose what I read and can stay away from those that upset me too much. My equanimity is closer to the surface with meditation part of my daily life.

The time I've found to sit is early in the morning, after I've done the Five Tibetan Rites that have become an essential part of my day since July 2013. Then I pull out my meditation stool and settle in for a session. The only day when this doesn't work for me is on Sundays, because I am busy writing this post, and I need to wait until after I return from my trip to the coffee shop. This will be the third Sunday since I began meditating that I will need to find another time to sit. 

In a couple of weeks, my schedule will change from what has become my usual routine of taking the bus to the coffee shop, then having my friend John drop me off at the Cornwall Rose Garden and walking home. He will be having his right shoulder rebuilt, and he'll be unable to drive or do much at all for several weeks. Last year at this time he had his left shoulder done, and it's been so successful that he's gone ahead and scheduled the other one. This will be harder because it's his dominant arm, but I fully expect he will recover. By then we'll be even closer to the end of the pandemic. (I hope.) But who knows what the future holds? The only time we really have is the present moment.

We recently learned that our rent will increase by more than 20% in the coming year. At first I was really dismayed, but then I realized that the reason the owner can do that is because there is no place to move that is less expensive. I suppose his costs have increased as well as ours, and I wish him well. We will deal with it, since in May my annuities increased enough that for these few months I haven't had to worry about budgeting. That changes when my excess "wealth" will go into his pocket. Just like everything else, our lives continue on with the trials and tribulations that we all face. I am just grateful that I can actually scrape it together. And that I continue to have a roof over my head, enough good food to eat, and health care if I should need it.

That puts me in a situation that the majority of the world does not enjoy. My heart breaks for the homeless I see every day on my city streets. Pushing a cart loaded with everything they own, they walk in the rain with plastic sheets covering their belongings, sometimes wrapped in plastic themselves. Old and young, men and women, down on their luck in a society that has no room for them. I suppose there have always been people like this in America, but I sure don't remember such poverty when I was growing up. But then again, there were not so many of us grasping to find a hold in a world of diminishing resources.

Nope, I'm not going to go there. In just writing that short paragraph, I could feel myself being pulled towards disheartenment, and that helps no one, least of all those homeless people. What happened in their lives for this to be their misfortune?

I have been learning about the Buddhist concept of reincarnation. I really don't know how I feel about it, since none of us knows at all what happens to our consciousness after death, but the idea that our mindstream continues after all else dissipates is a fascinating concept to me. There is so much I will never know, but it makes as much sense as any other that I've encountered. There is no doubt that enlightened beings have powers that make no sense to my rational mind, so who's to say that our essential being does or doesn't continue on in another form? I am fascinated by it all. 

In any event, I have accomplished what I set out to do when I woke this morning: write another Eye on the Edge post. Now it's time to get out of bed and continue my day's activities. I must give thanks for the wonderful ability I have to communicate with you, my dear readers, and to have my dear partner still sleep quietly next to me, and to begin yet another day with the abundance with which I am blessed. Later today I will read your blogs and whatever comments you leave here. You have become an essential part of my life, too, and I wish you all good things, today and tomorrow. Until we meet again next week, be well, dear friends.


ApacheDug said...

When I began reading this I planned to comment how envious I was that you had the Aurora Borealis in your skies--wow! I've often fantasized about going to Alaska just to see the phenomenon. But by the time I got to the end... I know you live in a beautiful part of the country DJan, but I'm aware how bad the homeless situation is in cities like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco.... it looks out of control. Pittsburgh may not have the appeal of the West Coast, but aside from a couple homeless shelters downtown there's no one living on the streets here. Your rent increase too--20 percent?? I admire your peaceful, accepting attitude, but I think I'd be having a stroke right now. I'm sure your meditative practices are helping you a lot, I should probably look more into that... Anyway, there's more I'd like to say but I've gone on long enough. Hope your week ahead is a god one, :^)

ApacheDug said...

PS. Oops, that's what I get for not proofreading; I hope your week ahead is a GOOD one.

Elephant's Child said...

The Aurora Borealis is something I would love to see. Some day. Perhaps.
I am glad that your face is continuing to heal. For myself I like the invisibility of my age.
The homeless tug at my heart though. There are so many of them, and so many teetering on the edge.
Stay well, stay safe - and thank you for your posts.

Arkansas Patti said...

Back in the day when in Florida, I was partying at the home of a rather rich guy from Palm Beach and he got all excited wanting to know if we wanted to see the Northern Lights. He had a private jet, got his on call pilot ready and he flew the whole party to Maine to catch them. Nope, they were gone by the time we got there but the flight was fun. That was before I was scared of flying. It did make me realize just what a lot of money could buy.
When comparing that amount of wealth to homelessness, it seems pretty obscene.

Rian said...

I should just say ditto to both Dug and EC's comments. I too would love to see the Aurora Borealis and I too like the invisibility of my age. And the homeless situation is something that needs to be dealt with better than it is now (as 'there but for the grace of God...').

And as for " who's to say that our essential being does or doesn't continue on in another form?" I do believe this. Energy doesn't just disappear, just changes form. Love goes on. The next 'adventure' awaits (IMO anyway).

Have a good Sunday!

William Kendall said...

I have seen the northern lights on a couple of occasions.

Gigi said...

That picture is stunning! Thank you, DJan for allowing us these peeks into your life. Have a great week, my friend.

Betsy said...

I always hoped during the almost 30 years we lived in Spokane that we would see the northern lights but always seemed to just miss them when they did appear.
The world is in a state and life gets scary when we dwell on it. I try to turn my worries over to the Lord and let Him handle things. After all, since He made it all, He's better able to take care of it.

John's Island said...

Eye on the Edge has taken on greater interest for me in the last couple of months. And that is saying something when considering I’ve been enjoying this blog for years. Lately, your interests in the spiritual realm have really caught my attention as I’ve been moving in that same direction myself. You recently introduced me to David Michie and I love his writing. I finished Buddhism for Busy People and have now started The Dalai Lama’s Cat. I wonder if you have read it? Lots of relationship between your meditation thoughts today and those books! As we go forward, I hope you will continue to write about your journey on the spiritual path. Blessings, John PS I will be smiling all day about ApacheDug's typo ... freudian slip? :-)

Red said...

Northern lights regularly show up on the northern prairies. we saw them often when I was a kid. we'd be playing outside in the dark and see the lights.

Anvilcloud said...

Here in Ontario, Canada, I live south of you but have seen the Borealis once, twice really but the second night was not like the first. It's been around a few more times, but I have only seen it on those consecutive nights.

I agree with you about how lucky we are to have lived lived with all of our basic needs met.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I missed them on Monday night. We were out and about after dark too. I have seen the Northern Lights on a number of occasions, they are magical.
SS will get a 5.9 % cost of living raise after the first of the year...that might help with your rent. It seems like everything is going up and up...hope it all stops soon. Hope you have a good week. No Dr appointments this week just a oil change for the car:)

Tabor said...

I think I believe in a type of reincarnation that happens through energy since all that is on this earth is based on energy transference. I have been listening to an expert talk about meditation...but there were no exercises or hints. Must look for that. I disappeared way back when I was about 45!!

gigi-hawaii said...

David has arthritis of the shoulders so he was told he needs surgery. He is hesitant because of the great inconvenience after surgery. Good luck to your friend.

As for meditation, good for you. We all need peace in our lives.

Linda Myers said...

I went on a Road Scholar trip to Churchill, Canada a couple of years ago to see the northern lights. We were right under them, and I was surprised and disappointed that they looked like gray, sentient beings. I was expecting the vivid colors. But at the latitude, only the camera sees the colors; the human eye does not.