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, November 26, 2023

Pondering and wandering

The season is upon us

Thanksgiving in the country where I live is now behind us, and we are gearing up for the next holiday, Christmas. As I walk to the bus in the morning, each day there are more decorations going up, until the street I walk down will be filled with colored lights and scenes like this one. In this picture, the first light of the day was beginning to decorate the sky, too. The days are short and getting shorter, so we will take the time to bring some light into the darkness. That's sort of what I try to do with these Sunday posts, looking for some light in the darkness, and attempting to spread it around a bit.

It's been hard lately to find joy and happiness in my days, especially if I let myself get pulled down with the news of the world. From burgeoning wars, desperate people trying to stay out of harm's way where nowhere exists for them, people without food, water, clothing and shelter as winter begins. If I let myself, I can get overwhelmed with it all, and that helps no one, particularly myself. So, it's a balancing act between the news and watching escapist TV, or reading an uplifting book to focus my thoughts elsewhere. I also try not to feel guilty for all my good fortune.

As usual, I get my regular exercise to work out the kinks. I always, without fail, feel better after going outdoors and walking in nature for any length of time. Yesterday I walked with my friends Steve and Don to Fairhaven, and we were at first quite cold (below freezing) but since we had full sunshine, it didn't take long before we were shedding hats and coats. Just being able to walk 6+ miles fills me with gratitude. I am losing some of my abilities, but I am still able to walk at a three-mile-an-hour pace for awhile. I cannot be unhappy about that!

My eyesight continues to deteriorate, and I realize now that my right eye can no longer focus well, since the missing vision has almost completely covered its focal point. It means that now I have little depth perception, and although both of my eyes' peripheral vision is good, the left eye has become my better and more dominant one. I don't wish macular degeneration on anybody and am just glad that I can still drive short distances with care. Those days are numbered, though. Thank goodness we have such an extensive public transit system here and, given enough time, I can get anywhere around town I need to go by bus.

Do you have nightmares? I hardly ever do, but the other night I had one that won't go away. It was so real and detailed that I can still, three days later, see scenes in my mind's eye that occurred in it. I had been looking forward to taking a hot bath, and in my dream I had settled into the steamy bathtub when I realized that my mother was in the bath with me, propped against the side of the huge tub. But she didn't seem to be breathing, so I tried to arouse her, with no luck. Then I realized that she had slipped under the water and had drowned. I tried CPR (which I have never given) and kept trying to get some reaction from her. Nothing. So I pulled her out of the water and tried to find help, but when I tried to scream, only a little squeak came out of my mouth. That is when I woke up, realizing it was a dream. Mama has been gone since 1993, so where in the world did that nightmare come from? Perhaps it is from trying to keep my own head above water as I deal with the helplessness I feel.

What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to one's piece of debris? What's the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood? —Buddha

When I look around at the beautiful and peaceful environment that surrounds me, I can only wish that I could somehow give that gift to the suffering world. And I must remember that it helps absolutely no one to allow myself to give up and sink into despair. There is so much to be thankful for in every life, and that should guide my mental wanderings, not to focus on the hard parts, but look for the joy that exists everywhere, even in war zones. Although the world will not be peaceful for many centuries to come, it will always have little pockets of happiness to be uncovered and appreciated. Love is always somewhere to be found and I will do my very best to love as many fellow travelers as I can. When my heart is filled with love and joy, it's like a little candle I have lit and I can look for others to share it with, lighting their own candle from its light. Soon, just like the colored lights on my neighborhood street, the darkness can be pushed back a bit.

Several remarkable things will happen for me this week: I will start a strength training class at the Senior Center that I signed up for months ago. It will continue until December 22 with eight sessions, when I will then have finished the training and can then use the facilities whenever I want. On Wednesday, I will join some other Senior Trailblazers as we make another boat trip on a water taxi to spend the day hiking around Cypress Island. Last month we went to Sucia Island. I've never been on this island before and look forward to a great adventure. Then on Friday, I will celebrate my eighty-first birthday with a massage and another strength training class. 

A full week, and I am so blessed to have such good friends to enjoy it with. And of course, I always look forward to hearing what is going on in the lives of my dear virtual family, of which you are part, hoping that you will be close enough to someone's little candle to light up your days. Until we meet again next week, dear friends, I wish you all good things. Be well.


Rian said...

Great post, DJan. Yes, Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is upon us. And I too feel that guilt as we enjoy our holiday traditions knowing that there are people around the world are suffering. It does overwhelm you... and is probably responsible for some of our stress related issues. So sorry about your nightmare. I have them, but they're basically about being lost and can't work my phone. This one varies, but the theme is always the same... can't find DH or my way home. Weird. I like your idea about 'lighting one little candle' and passing it on. I will try to light mine from yours. Enjoy your new island adventure this week! And wishing you the happiest of birthdays!!

Rita said...

What a terrible nightmare. Feeling helpless could be behind it.
Enjoy the new class and the new island trip. And happy birthday this week! :)

Marcia LaRue said...

This is quite an interesting read this cold Sunday morning in S. Colorado ... dreams are an interesting subject and can keep us scratching our heads over their meanings!
I hope you have a wonderful birthday 🥳🎂!

Tabor said...

That Buddha quote says it all. I had to pause and stare into the distance. I give money to refugee groups, but that is a drop in the bucket. I do not punish my self for it.

Marie Smith said...

It is easy to despair when one looks at conditions in this world. One can only do one’s best for others and move forward with hope!

Chris said...

What a night mare and they can seem so real, hope you can shelve into a corner of your mind where it won't bother you. And you have my full understanding about your eye sight as it seems one of my eyes has the suspected MD, but I am taking the added vitamins and so far so good..and a very happy birthday to come, I too was born in '42 so 81 on the 20th Dec.Wish I had your walking energy, I envy you.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you for your posts - which I ALWAYS find uplifting and inspiring. I hear you on the overwhelm - and try and focus on beauty. Luckily there is always some about.
I hope your forthcoming birthday is packed with love and laughter.

Far Side of Fifty said...

What did you eat? Sometimes different foods will trigger nightmares for me. Sounds like an awful nightmare. For me, shrimp or lobster is a trigger.
Keep smiling! This is your birthday week!! I hope you have a wonderful birthday!

gigi-hawaii said...

That was a terrible nightmare. I am glad it never happened to me. I rarely have dreams, so I wonder if I am getting any REM before I wake up.

Linda Reeder said...

Some dreams are hard to shake off. We can be thankful that we are not living in a real nightmare.
I started the take down, put away process today. Tom worked on outside lights. By the end of the week we should have the decorating done. I am looking forward to cheery things to occupy me.

Red said...

You're moving right along in your 80's and doing very well. Walking 6 miles is a piece of cake for you. Happy birthday and here's to many more miles of hiking.

Anvilcloud said...

That was a very odd dream. I recently dreamt of a certain someone whom I haven't seen for ore than a half century. It was surprisingly powerful.

Barwitzki said...

I've also started strength training for some time now... I really enjoy it, especially if I can go for a short walk in the forest afterwards. I mainly work with slings, which means I work with my own body and less with equipment... it's very good. Good luck to you... and always stay tuned... It's good for the body... mind and body must be kept in harmony.
A happy greeting to you.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Prayers for your health and well being. The turmoil in the world does impact our lives in many ways.
Happy Early Birthday!
You are an inspiration.