Egrets

Today was a bad day at work. The day started well. But after lunch there was a meeting, an important one, which lasted for more than three hours and was a total disappointment. People were not being objective, most people were unwilling to listen to logic and just wanted to have their ways. I expected a more productive and fruitful outcome but after wasting lot of time I realized that nothing is going to come of this meeting. I was disappointed and upset about it.

I drove home thinking about how my time got wasted, my mood got worsened,  because of some of my colleagues’ selfishness and stupidity. I had encountered so much negativity from others in that meeting, that I couldn’t find any happiness or sense of peace in my own mind anymore. I reached home and felt really tired, frustrated, let down, upset and angry. The anger was also partly directed at myself because I allowed these things to affect me so strongly. But I couldn’t help it. I was drained of all energy and decided to skip my evening walk. So there I was, sitting on my couch, perfectly miserable, mindlessly scrolling through my phone.

I needed a quick fix. I wanted to come out of this unhappy place and find my peace again. I tried first to keep my mind off these negative thoughts and started visiting some of my favorite bloggers’ sites of see if they have posted anything. Rather than receiving email notification, I actually prefer to look for new posts by visiting the sites. The joy of discovering a new post, after may be, looking everyday for ten days, is much more than a confirmed email notification. But today I was not lucky, I didn’t find anything new to read among those blogs I checked. Then I thought of reading some poems and Mary Oliver came to mind. And this time I was lucky, I quickly hit the jackpot. I found the poem Egrets.

https://www.poetseers.org/contemporary-poets/mary-oliver/mary-oliver-poems/egrets/

And that’s it. I needed nothing more. Like every single time, Mary Oliver lifted my spirit once more. Last few lines seem to be written just for me. I could almost see before my eyes those innocent egrets in their pure whiteness, putting their faith on mother nature that made them. They are  sure-footed, unruffled when they walk on water even with half closed eyes. In their complete trust, any other possibility does not exist. And just like their trust lifts them over every dark thing, this poem also lifted me over my dark thoughts….I was calm, centered, peaceful and light. I felt thankful that this innocence exists in nature. There’s no reason to lose hope, look at those egrets who are so sure nothing will go wrong. Their unwaivering faith somehow put things in perspective. My problem didn’t seem so big anymore. The smooth glide of those egrets gave me hope that there are far bigger things in nature, in this universe which we can trust and things will work out just fine, despite some problems and setbacks. I am ready for tomorrow.

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From a dark corner

How fragile my frame of mind is? If I say “I am happy” or “I am sad”, how robust that claim is, against the dynamic backdrop of my daily life? Of course a big event can completely change our lives. But even small small details in our daily life can have surprisingly strong effect on our outlook.

I had to face some disappointment at my work last week. To cut a long story short, I have been denied the credit for something I had done, and somebody else “stole” it from me. This made me reasonably disappointed and upset. Then last weekend I had a bit of a fight with my dear husband and the reason for the fight was as always, HIS MOTHER. And just like that, these two back-to-back incidents managed to put me in quite a dark place. None of these events are significant in the long run, I know. The workplace problem is unfortunate but it is not as if my life depends on it….I know I will move on. The tension with my husband will also dissipate out after few days. Right now we are giving each other the silent treatment but our interaction will eventually be normal again (I hope).

Yet, at the time I am going through this, I feel quite different from my usual self. My default modes have changed. To a specific comment, specific situation, I am responding differently than I normally do. And that difference is more towards the darker side. When someone says something jokingly, instead of reciprocating with a hearty laughter or another witty come back, which I normally do, I am now responding in a more grim way. A cheerful environment is making me uncomfortable and I feel like a misfit there. And one part of me is observing this difference and taking notes with interest!

In our daily life how much we take for granted? The way I interact with other people, the way I handle a given situation, is so closely connected to whether I had a happy chat with my husband last evening. In a normal day, after we come back home from work, we have dinner and tell each other how our day went….we share with each other our moments of joy, excitement, disappointment of that day. Our conversation stays casual, relaxed and sometimes even turns vague…..yet that bit is crucial to keep me going. When things go right, we sometimes fail to appreciate them. Only when something starts going wrong, we realize how important role it played in shaping our perspective.

This little episode has once more opened my eyes towards mindfulness. Paying attention to every little blessing that comes our way, and also paying attention to the ripple our own actions are sending out to the universe. We are all connected and in a brief, seemingly insignificant interaction, we can alter another person’s state of mind. We need to always always keep this in mind and stay sensitive towards that connection. As I write this, a famous quote from Mary Oliver fills my head…..“over and over announcing your place in the family of things”.

While I make my slow journey back to my normal life, out of this dark place where I am living right now, I wish all of you bright days, filled with light and laughter and I hope the ripples you are sending out, are making positive differences in many many lives.

At Blackwater Pond

At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have
settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?

(Mary Oliver)

Every time I read this poem, the last two lines catch me off guard. I don’t even understand myself why they fill my heart with a profound sense of peace and joy. This poem brings a transformation in me which I simply can’t comprehend, I remain at a complete loss for words how to describe my state of mind each time I finish reading the poem. Truely my mind wonders: oh what is that beautiful thing, that just happened?

That connection I felt

Last night something woke me up. I realized it was some loud conversation right below my bedroom window. It seems in our apartment complex someone had a party and the guests were leaving. It was 2:30 a.m. and this group of people were not even trying to keep their voice down. They were saying goodbyes, they were making plans for the next gathering, chit-chatting, completely oblivious to the fact that it was late at night, that it was a residential complex and people are sleeping. My initial urge was to get up, walk in the balcony and sternly ask them to keep it down, reminding them the time of the night. And in most cases I would have done just that. But for some reason (may be because of the cold), last night I stayed in bed and tried to calm myself by actually listening to their conversation. Okay, I grant that these people are perhaps being inconsiderate right now, but how different they are actually from me? Turns out, not much. True, I can’t see myself making noise in the middle of the night like that but these people also are going about their lives, making plans with friends and family, urging people to visit again, accusing some others that they do not keep in touch often enough. The glimpses of their lives I could see (rather hear) is something so familiar, so wholesome, so lively, that it soothed me, it reassured me. It filled me with a sense of peace and love, with a sense of belonging. The thought came to me that I don’t need to be anywhere else right now, this is exactly where I am supposed to be at this moment, with this flow of life going on around me. The life that so many people have built on love, on companionship, on kindness, on eagerness to hold onto each other. I felt at peace with everything.

I wish I could write that I finally drifted back to sleep, my heart overflowing with love and gratitude but unfortunately that did not happen. I could not sleep at all afterwards and for the whole day at work today I was tired and miserable, could not concentrate at the task at hand.

But I wish to experience such moments again. When I am able to feel connected with everyone, when I am able to see how little difference is there between all of us….I wish I could put myself in this frame of mind more often. I wish I am able to do this when I feel angry at a driver who cuts be off in traffic, when I feel impatient with a colleague who complains about everything, when I feel annoyed with a stranger for taking enormous amount of time at the supermarket cash counter…i.e. in many situations in life when I feel “I deserve better than this” and hence immediately disconnect myself from the ‘living’ that is taking place around me. I wish I could fall back on this mindfulness, on this conscious choice of connected-ness at those moments.