When looking through my montage of snapshots from my iPhone, this particular picture grabbed my full attention. I captured this tranquil, but colorful piece of nature cycling around Stanley Park in Vancouver. It caught me by surprise only because my eyes are usually accustomed to the earthy tones of the desert landscape. I’ve never witnessed this kind of red leaf layer cake with the sky peeking from the top.
As I maneuvered my bike around the park, children played in the sand on a nearby beach, couples walked as they gazed at the water, a young woman propped a book on her lap and runners maintained a steady pace on a nearby trail. There were brief glimpses of this everyday magic all across the park. On one side of the park, I spotted an area dedicated to totem poles, while on the opposite edge an artist built cairns on the beach. As I witnessed these various snippets of life, I felt the wind crawling up my spine while the wheels kept edging forward to yet another undiscovered treasure. At the next bend, a group of dancers practiced their version of Irish dancing as spectators gathered to watch. While I steered my bicycle around the tunnel, I stared at the path ahead.
My daughter forged faster than I could keep up. She periodically waited for me to catch up. So much of life passed on the pathway, that I slowed down, actively paying attention to looking around and when I stopped, tilting my gaze up and behind. I sensed the glimmer of these moments, something that provided a swirl in the present. Fully immersed in the freedom of riding my bike, I didn’t feel the present leaking out of my body. Instead, the moment felt like it was mine and I hadn’t bartered it away as I had in the past.
Several times, my daughter cried out, “Hurry up, Momma,” but her commands failed to hinder the stillness and waves of untrammeled joy I felt in being a kid again. Several years had passed since my feet pedaled around a scenic route. I forgot how present you can become sinking into the moment and observing others’ joy while experiencing your own. These thoughts brimmed to the forefront when I intersected with the picture again this past weekend. It helped me recognize that sometimes the present is barely there, but still peeking into my life.
It is up to me to let myself bike into that treasure.
Every month I chronicle those everyday things that give me comfort or offer a place of reflection or joy. Here are my everyday delights for August:
1. This Journal
I’ve collected various journals most of my life. The blank page is where I find refuge, whether it is to jot down a few thoughts or make a list of things to do. The message, “Don’t Wait” keeps repeating in my head like a mantra. When I discovered this notebook at a local bookstore, I felt an urgency to add it to my collection. There are other notebooks, featuring other mottos, like “Live Inspired” or “Take Epic Chances.”
2. Eternity by Calvin Klein
I recently read the book, The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro, which captures the journey of two women who discover the powerful thread of perfume throughout their lives. I thought about how different perfumes defined various periods in my life. Smells carry importance. They thrust you into reminiscing about places, people and events. Eternity by Calvin Klein is one of my favorite fragrances.
3. This quote
I adore quotes. I’ve filled many pages of journals with some of my favorite words. In my office, I keep this one quote prominently displayed so that I can view it every time I enter or exit my office. It is a humbling reminder of time’s passage. Your universe may change in tangible ways, but that does not prevent the rest of the world from moving forward.
4. This old photograph
Technology allows us to extend our hands into memories that we’ve tucked away. This past week I scanned through some of my older pictures on my iPhone and ran across this snapshot of my little girl. I love that smile and her playful side. Something about three is so magical and fun.
What are some of your August favorites? I’d love to hear from you.
Lost really has two disparate meanings. Losing things is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing. There are objects and people that disappear from your sight or knowledge or possession; you lose a bracelet, a friend, the key. You still know where you are. Everything is familiar except that there is one item less, one missing element. Or you get lost, in which case the world has become larger than your knowledge of it. Either way, there is a loss of control. Imagine yourself streaming through time shedding gloves, umbrellas, wrenches, books, friends, homes, names. This is what the view looks like if you take a rear-facing seat on the train. Looking forward you constantly acquire moments of arrival, moments of realization, moments of discovery. The wind blows your hair back and you are greeted by what you have never seen before. The material falls away in onrushing experience. It peels off like skin from a molting snake. Of course to forget the past is to lose the sense of loss that is also memory of an absent richness and a set of clues to navigate the present by; the art is not one of forgetting but letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss. – Rebecca Solnit