the flight of purpose

I sat on the deck this afternoon, enjoying the earthy smells of the woods following a rainstorm. The clouds were moving, chased away by the warming sun. I lit a cigar.

Then, interrupting my distracted gaze it appeared. It was a Monarch Butterfly, magnificent in its carefree romp around my yard. It zigged and it zagged, dipped and climbed but it always looked so easy. Dare I say carefree?

It seems to fly without a care, but I don’t think so. It has already endured so much, survived such a remarkable transition. It is not carefree. It is accomplished, full of purpose.

To live every moment of its short life.

Does its life span feel as long as mine? What if…he knows that he will die soon and is working against the clock to see and do as much as possible?

I can relate. Been there.

I am also looking at a short life. I crave fulfillment and fear lack of accomplishment. I have also been through a difficult transition and emerged a new me. I can’t sit still for very long because I am reminded that moments are few and not guaranteed and I get off the sofa.

The Monarch saw me waving to it, beckoning it to rest on my arm. He chose to keep flying and exploring. He had places to go. Resting on my arm would be a sofa in its own right.

Per usual, inspiration can be found in the smallest of things.

I see trees

 

Sometime in the near future NASA is going to reveal that they have found the center of the Universe.

A lot of people are going to be crushed to find that it’s not them.

I am growing so incredibly frustrated with the materialistic, self-centered, selfie society we are becoming.
Rampant consumerism has a firm choke hold on the throat of moderation.
Savings have dwindled, debts have soared, and landfills are heaping with the scraps of our throwaway mentality.
Self-obsession and promotion has become the new normal. We’d rather film a person beating someone up than stop to help them.
We are becoming too power obsessed, fighting for our little scraps and destroying everything in our path in the process.

I fear that we are losing our humanity.

 While I always tried to avoid participating in such a life, I was forced to live along side it. Fortunately, in the downsizing of my existence I was finally able to walk away from it completely. Once free from the pursuit of a larger everything I have embraced normalcy. I have welcomed my average. I celebrate and surround myself with the regular. And I have never been happier.

One of my favorite movie scenes is from The Great Outdoors, starring John Candy and Dan Aykroyd. They are in Canada on vacation, sitting on a deck overlooking a lake. Dan Aykroyd, a materialistic businessman, goes off on a tirade about what he sees when he looks out over the water. He describes a vision of future Industrialization, urban sprawl, forestry, and medical waste dumps. John Candy’scharacter is a simple man, and when asked what he sees, replies
“I just see trees.”
He is then summarily berated for being short-sighted and simple. Sorry to say, but that’s me, I just see trees.

In order to appreciate the world we have to take our eyes off of the screens and look up and around. We need to appreciate the power and beauty of nature. The beauty is everywhere, the power rearing its mighty head unpredictably. Both manifest in subtle sights and awe-inspiring displays. The flight of the bird, starlit nights and sunsets, the reflection of foliage on the still waters of a pond on a late fall afternoon. Such sights fill me with wonder and give me cause me to question my place in the world and to seek a spiritual connection to the Universe.

The looming mountaintop, the endless horizon seen from the beach, the mighty Oak, the rushing river, wind tearing through trees, waves crashing and receding with a massive riptide serve another purpose entirely. They remind me of how small I really am in the grand scheme of things. Instead of being intimidated, I embrace it.

I recognize my relative size and overall significance in comparison to the Universe. I know my place. No man is a match for the mighty tide, despite his wealth, power and amount of Instagram followers. Man is only a force in, not of, Nature when he embraces his fellow man. But instead of coming together as an advanced society we have drifted apart and we are regressing. Our humanity is whatmakes us great, the increasing lack of it is destroying us.

Thisis a call for humility,
A wake-up call to recognize and embrace our smallness.
A damper of ego and hubris.
For less stuff andmore quality.

To just see Trees…

My Walden

Many of our greatest American poets and writers penned their best work while admiring a body of water. Robert Frost was inspired by hiking the woods in both winter and summer and waxed poetic about the beauty of the seasons in New England. Henry David Thoreau was inspired by the serenity of Walden Pond. Reading Walden as a young man I could relate to the notion of hiking through thick woods, to come upon an opening in the thicket and stumble upon an oasis. A body of water, glimmering in the summer sun, or the frozen surface glistening in the sparse hours of daylight while in the throes of winter. They both convey such a calming image that inevitably leads to a moment of reflection and wonder. I have 2 bodies of water that invoke the spirits of Frost and Thoreau. One is Ossipee Lake, which I am not in sight of year round. The other is my beloved duck pond.

The duck pond is the single one thing that makes the lot we live on graduate from great to awesome. It captivated my mom and dad when they bought it in the 80’s. The lot is two acres but is surrounded by wetlands which mean that despite not owning it, we have the luxury of enjoying another three acres with the security that it can’t be built on. Our view is ours to keep.

The house was clearly constructed with a view of the pond in mind. The main entrance, two sliding glass doors, and many windows all face it. I find myself drawn to the pond year round. Many mornings I have had coffee on the deck and spotted a deer or two that ventured to the water line for a drink. It teems with birds of all kinds, mostly Canadian Geese, and Mallards but occasionally the great Heron with the six-foot wingspan will swoop in like a Concorde Jet landing at a Municipal Airport. I love the birds, all of them. It pleases me to the core to see the small V-shaped ripple in water as a solitary duck makes its way across the pond.

At night, the pond shifts gears from quiet oasis to a bustling ecosystem as frogs loudly make their presence known, crickets (Cicadas?) create a cacophonous symphony, and the industrious beavers work tirelessly at their latest monument. It is deafening in early spring but like everything else, you get used to it.

With the late Spring in New England this year, I have looked eagerly to the pond each morning for signs of my favorite season. The pond tells all, year round. In the fall, the decreasing bird population signals the approach of winter. In the early winter, the encroachment of ice indicates the arrival of winter. In the spring, I monitor daily the receding of the ice and the return of my beloved birds. This year, the pond didn’t give me what I wanted, despite my constant pleading. By the middle of April, it was still in the throes of winter. And then, I think this week, Spring suddenly showed up. The ice is gone, my birds are back and last night the Crickets were deafening, much to the pleasure of my ears. Spring is actually here, I saw both a Wasp and a Tick this morning while walking the dog.

This afternoon, I had a coffee on the deck and admired my pond. My ducks are there, the sun reflected on the ripples suddenly brought on by a light but satisfying afternoon breeze. I have not been outside much lately. My sickness has made me tired, weak and cold. On days that I used to wake early and race outside, I have found myself sleeping late and spending my waking hours under a warm blanket. As I sipped my coffee, reflecting on my life recently, it occurred to me that my beloved pond can serve as a powerful metaphor for my life.

The seasons are fundamentally about change. In New England, we always have four seasons (sometimes in one week) and we can count on it. Change is inevitable. I see it coming by studying my pond. This Spring, my pond shed its blanket of ice and welcomed back all of the creatures that depend upon it. It embraced the change and is now doing what it is supposed to. Today, I shed my actual blanket for the first time and took a step, albeit a small one, towards shaking off the cold, grey winter that has occupied my soul for months. Like my duck pond, I let the sun hit me and I eagerly absorbed it, seeking enough light to allow it to warm me, reflect off of me and have enough in the tank to shine it for those that depend and count on me. I need to welcome back the desire to go on as if the urgency of a coming fall and winter was fast approaching. It is indeed that urgent.

Today, like Frost and Thoreau, I have found inspiration. I don’t know if they ever sat on the edge of their beloved oasis’s with a heart as heavy as I have of late but I can see how it inspired them to put it to paper for others to read and enjoy. It has certainly inspired me to do so, and I hope someone will enjoy reading this. It may be just a blog, but it could also be the first entry in a great epiphany in which a lost soul gets his mojo back.

Imagine that, all this about a bunch of ducks.