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 17, 2022

It's been a week

Cornwall Park

I walk by this spot several times a week. It's part of my usual path from the Rose Garden where John lets me off after we leave the coffee shop. From here, I can walk home and get the bulk of my steps for the day. The distance between my home and this part of Cornwall Park is about 2.5 miles. That, plus the distance from home to the bus early in the morning, gives me well over three miles of walking and close to 10,000 steps. 

Right at this point on the path, I can hear the pickleball players in the courts off to the left. The pok-pok sound of the ball hitting the rackets, along with groans of a miss, or happy laughter of a good play, makes for an interesting backdrop to the sound of my steps on the gravel. Plenty of birdsong and the raucous cawing of the crows adds to the symphony. 

As usual on a Sunday morning, I rise and make myself some tea and bring it into the bedroom with my laptop and settle in for the task of writing this post. It's become such an ingrained routine that I cannot imagine not sitting here, casting about for the subject of the day to emerge. Today, as most Sundays lately, I'm continuing to look for ways to take care of my hold on serenity and not allowing the world's ills to dominate my outlook. I read somewhere recently that this state of anxiety is not just happening to those of us here in the US, but it's become prevalent worldwide.

Therefore, what this says to me is that I am actually right in the emotional slipstream that many of us are experiencing. But one thing I have learned in recent years is that I am in charge of where I place my state of mind, and that I can choose to be happy or sad. Although many aspects of life's trajectory are not within my power to change, where I place my attention makes all the difference.
I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it. —Groucho Marx

 Truer words were never spoken (or written). It's what I've decided to concentrate on today as I write here: how to be happy in this moment of time. And I've got a head start on it, since I woke from a good long sleep in weather just right for me: cool with a light breeze fluttering the curtains at the open window. We are in one of the few places in the Northern Hemisphere with decent temperatures right now. I read that Europe is experiencing a serious heat wave, as is much of the US. Not us, though: yesterday was cloudy and we never reached 70°F (21°C). I know some people love the heat, but I'm not one of them. So that is another reason for me to be happy: I live in the Pacific Northwest, the place we chose for our retirement years.

Although I am approaching my eightieth birthday, I am still in good enough health to walk and hike in this beautiful environment. My friends and family keep me entertained and provide plenty of intellectual stimulation. I have subscriptions to many different entertainment venues and watch movies and series that I enjoy very much. Recently I re-watched the musical Chicago and really enjoyed seeing it again; after so many years it was like watching it for the first time. I am so happy that I can do that, watch old favorites or new series, with the touch of a button. 

I am also thrilled that the James Webb telescope has been officially considered an enormous success, and last week the first pictures were released, showing astounding images from galaxies, with light reaching us from more than a billion years ago! That reminds me of how much I appreciate being able to learn about our universe and the concepts that are still puzzling our astronomers. A billion light-years is mind boggling, don't you think? The concept of a billion of anything is hard to grasp. If you were to count a billion seconds, it would take 31 years! So a billion light-years is, well, impossible to wrap my brain around. But we now can see galaxies that far away and that long ago.

What else is happening in the world? Well, I could concentrate on the marvels of science, such as that new telescope, or what is available to me through the internet, which is considerable. I hardly remember a world where Google wasn't available to answer any question almost as quickly as I can frame it. And here I am sitting with a laptop that gives me instant results to my queries. Not to mention that once I finish this post, I will be able to publish it and send it into your home, almost instantaneously. I am grateful that I have lived long enough to see and experience the world of today. This also gives me the ability to know about all the ills of the world, and all those who are suffering, but I also get to choose where I place my attention. I think I'll join Groucho Marx is choosing to be happy today. 

My dear husband turned over and is awake, which is unusual for him at this time. But he'll most likely drift off again while I finish this post. My tea is gone, and this Sunday morning I'll head off to breakfast with my friend John. I'm going to take some time to stretch and do some yoga postures to help keep me limber. So far, my quest for a happy day is working out. I do hope you will have a good day and week ahead before we meet here again next week. Until then, please spend some time with me in being happy. I wish you all good things.


ApacheDug said...

Its cool, wet & overcast today in Pittsburgh (reminding me of the Pacific Northwest) but it sure is promising & bright in today's Edge column. I like your efforts to focus on all the good things vs the "world's ills" (I like that too) and I appreciate the inspiration DJan. And yes! I've been thinking about you this week in regards to the new telescope--it's truly amazing and I can't wait for more. I hope your week ahead contains as much promise DJan.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, “ I know some people love the heat, but I'm not one of them. So that is another reason for me to be happy: I live in the Pacific Northwest, the place we chose for our retirement years.” Wow, I second that! And we are on the same path for happiness! Have a great day and week ahead. Thanks for another fine Eye on the Edge. 😊 John

Marie Smith said...

We have had a cool breeze most days this summer and rain regularly. More humidity is headed this way this week by the look of it.

I can understand the anxiety these days, about that war in Ukraine, the environment, inflation. So many huge issues to take one’s peace of mind. I focus on the here and now and enjoy every minute in nature. It gives me peace in a troubled world.

Anvilcloud said...

We are having a bit of a heat wave, but it is not of the most torrid kind, think goodness.

I agree that most of us with healthy minds can choose our attutudes most of the time, or at least seem to. People with clinical depression seem to not be so fortunate, at least not without treatment.

gigi-hawaii said...

Good that you have managed to keep your composure in the midst of all the havoc that surrounds us. Take care.

Rian said...

We each do what works for us to survive without getting too bogged down in the 'ills of the world'. You seem to do it exceptionally well. But it is something that we must focus on each day - finding the middle ground for our own emotional and physical health and doing what we can to help how or when we can.
Enjoy your wonderful weather. We are getting through the heat here day by day. Like everything else, this too will pass.

Galen Pearl said...

When I was researching and writing about happiness, I learned that only 10% of our happiness comes from outside circumstances. That made a big impression on me. So you are right that you can choose your perspective and attitude about your life. So glad you are choosing happiness.

John's Island said...

PS – Almost forgot … I’m thoroughly enjoying the book you mentioned last Sunday, Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. I so wish I could have a little chat with you at the coffee shop to get your thoughts on what Nao said about blogging. (Page 25 of 422 in my Kindle) I thought her comment was exceptionally perceptive! 😊

Elephant's Child said...

Oh yes. While well aware of the tragedies and fears that beset so many, I choose to focus on beauty.
Have a wonderful week dear friend.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Don't worry be happy! Was that a song...maybe. I am with you happy thoughts and kind actions:) Hope you have a delightful week!

Arkansas Patti said...

Groucho said it perfectly.
As for heat, it has been brutal here. Nothing but 100+ for the next 7 days. And to think I considered the PNW when I left Florida but I believed the Chamber of Commerce description of Arkansas's mild winters and summers. They didn't lie about the winters but wow, were they off with the summers. Thank goodness for A/C.
Enjoy the cool.

Red said...

You will always be curious about many things. At times you go very deep into some aspect of science like astronomy. Then you visit fitness in it's many forms. who likes to hike more than you do? Religion is one of your interests so there's always something to keep you going.

Gigi said...

I agree that you choose happiness. I wish more people would choose it.

Rita said...

Me, too! (Hand raised for choosing happiness.)