“You should get up and meditate,” an inner voice suggests, ever so sweetly. She has many ideas, most beginning with you should…. I ignore her which is rare, but it’s time for a day without a list.
I roll on my side, Willow’s signal to stand beside my bed and lean toward me for a morning rubdown from ears to belly to tail. Her nose nuzzles my relaxed hand. She squirms with pleasure as my fingers work their way through her oily short brown fur. It’s the least I can do for this girl who’s seen me through the worst of grief.
I throw back the blankets and sit up. “You could meditate now,” the little voice says. I ignore her, walk to the south windows, pick up the binoculars sitting on my dresser, and scan the nesting boxes.
Tree Swallow parents are busy feeding their nestlings. For a few seconds, both parents are inside the box with all four babes. I know there are four because I wait until the parents are out and look inside. They don’t seem to mind.
A Carolina Wren sticks her head through the round hole of the other box close by, the box where five Bluebird babies died in May. The mama disappeared in days of cold driving rain, but the Wren reminds me life persists.
Willow walks downstairs ahead of me, taking each step carefully. “We could meditate now,” the little voice suggests with hope. I know the message underneath. “You’re a spiritual failure. What are you doing? Go meditate.” I ignore her again and walk to the back porch to watch the Swallowtail Butterflies, both White and Black, nectaring in Dame’s Rockets in my flower bed.
“Shouldn’t we meditate, you slacker,” the voice says. She’s bitchy now, but I know her game and her unending demands.
Willow’s on the deck warming her old bones in sunshine, a rare pleasure this rainy cold June. She’s ready for breakfast and so am I. Dog chow for Willow with grated carrots, olive oil, yogurt, and sardines. Yogurt and granola for me. Willow slurps it up, and so do I.
“Want to meditate?”
“Not really. Not sitting inside on those blue cushions with an upright spine and mind struggling to quiet down and follow my breath. Not the practice I’ve done since 1970. Today, I’m meditating on doing nothing. I’m meditating on no-list and no-goals other than listening to singing birds and rustling leaves. It’s not easy with you inside my head.”
I walk to the garden, unlatch the gate, and marvel at the new design created by my son. A few raised beds and planting boxes with a fence for trellising beans and cucumbers. The right size to grow vegetables for one instead of a hungry family. I pull a few weeds in the loose fertile boxes, all in slow motion.
Willow and I meander along a familiar trail. As we circle back toward the house, a blue-gray Bluebird female shoots out of a new nesting box.
As the mama watches from a tree branch, I quickly open the nesting box door and see four perfect eggs in a nest built on top of an abandoned moss Chickadee nest. Nature’s recycling plan and this spring’s fourth try for Bluebirds to be fruitful and multiply. Three nesting attempts failed, but nature offers another chance to observe with less attachment.
Today, quiet watching is meditation enough for me.
Do you take days or weeks or a whole summer off from goals? I wrote my blog before this New York Times Opinion piece came out: You Are Doing Something Important When You Aren’t Doing Anything. Some of us (especially me) need reassurance during receptive fallow times. For other articles about being replenished by nature, you might enjoy my Nature archives. I suggest a photo essay 12 Monarch Miracles of 2018 because I saw a few Monarchs doing mating dances over the milkweed fields on June 23. They’re late this year, but they’ve arrived.