I always think that I am right.
I am very sure of my opinions, my thoughts, my points of view. Generally speaking, I trust myself.
I rely on certain routines; my daily predictable activities comfort me, and make me feel safe. They make me trust my beliefs and my ideas. My routines give me a sense of security about the rightness of my life.
When I come home from school, my first task is to make dinner. As an Italian woman, I do not take this task lightly. Nevermind that there are no more children to feed, or that my even tempered husband would be happy to have some leftovers or a sandwich. I am the Mom, and I cook. So every evening, at about 6:30, I begin to bang the pots and pans, to simmer the garlic, to saute the veggies.
This is my routine; it keeps me both safe and sane.
When dinner is over, and night has fallen, I make my lunch for tomorrow, set up the coffee for the morning, and pick out my clothes for the next day. I check my email, do the evening’s corrections and lesson plans, and organize my work bag.
Then I go outside, and sink into the soothing waters of my hot tub.
I only go in there at night.
I lay my head back, and gaze up at the night sky. When it is clear, I look into the mysteries of the Milky Way band, and feel infinitesimally tiny. I float, and think, and feel all of the pressures of my life slip away.
When the moon is up, I bathe in its silvery light, feeling as if my skin and bones can soak up the serenity that it sends to Earth.
On cloudy nights, I gaze into the mist, awed by the mystery that it holds above me. On clear nights, I stay out in the briny heat until I catch a glimpse of a shooting star. Only then do I feel that I have seen the magic that will keep me and mine safe for another night.
I only go out to my deck, to my hot tub, when all is dark and quiet. This is my routine: this is my safety.
Today I was home from school for a very rare sick day. To tell the truth, I could have gone in and been with my class! All I have is a nasty cold. But I am learning to listen to my not-so-young body, and to respect it when it asks for some rest. Last year, my October virus lingered until the spring, and I never regained my usual vigor.
So today was my second day of staying on the couch. Of reading and drinking tea and letting my body fight its battle.
It was very, very boring.
As dusk was settling in, I found myself feeling truly restless. My back was sore from too much couch time. My wrist was sore from too much computer time. Although the sun was barely beginning to set, I decided to head to the hot tub for a soak. I knew that I was going out at the “wrong” time, and that my experience couldn’t possibly be as wonderful as my usual nighttime float, but I went anyway.
And I am sure that you know what I am going to say.
The sky was the most beautiful, icy, snowfall blue. A blue that was barely there. The pine trees were a deep and rich and velvety green, seen from below as I raised my eyes.
And the tip of every leaf, on every birch and oak and cherry and ash, was dipped in perfect gold. A gentle sunset breeze moved through, and every gilded leaf did its dance.
I lay back in the embrace of the water, no longer aware of my body, and my eyes were caught and captured and held by the glittering beauty of the sunset as it painted the underside of every arching little leaf.
If I hadn’t broken my routine, moved out of my usual script, tried something just a little bit different, I would have missed those moments of truly exquisite beauty.
I wonder how often my “set” perspective stops me from seeing a miracle?