In my joy class we sing “With a Little Help from My Friends,” all of us swaying and clapping together in our little Zoom boxes. After, I have Alexa play it for me again and again until I memorize all the words. I pick “When I’m 64” to learn next because I think I should sing it throughout the coming year while I’m 63. Late at night I sit in the living room, heater and ice-maker noises behind me, solar Christmas lights on the succulents outside the window, headlights on the 210 moving like water in the distance between the black curves of the foothills. My eyes close while I type, and I jerk awake more than once, but when I finish my work, I look for the song. I find the music with the lyrics, and I play it on my laptop with the volume turned way down. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” My knees bounce as my feet move, and I sing along, delighted with the music and the words, the minds and hearts that made them. I am lifted out of my limited self in the quiet night, unhindered, even happy, spread out like the valley to the west, silent now in the late dark.
I heard my favorite raven calls yesterday morning, those round sounds that seem like love talk, like overhearing the quiet morning murmur of two people in bed, their own little bubble, lovers who have been together for a long time talking about the day to come, about last night, people who know how to rest together, how to share peace.
[Spontaneous writing prompt, revised. Words were round and rest.]
I pack my groceries on my bike. The four heads of Romaine fit neatly into the remaining gap in the basket, their leaves upright and waving as I pull away. I ride behind Ralph’s, the air almost blue-ish, only a hint of the smell of smoke. I coast, rounding the curve, and I hear my first mockingbird of fall. I go still inside, listening with all of me, this marker of the turning of our desert world. Earlier in the day things are easier sometimes, maybe not the joy that used to come, not the lifting of the heart again and again, for the ridge of the mountains against the sky, the lizard I watch for and protect when I open the door to the shed who looks down on me with his clear, tiny eyes from the ledge, the hummingbird who like to sit in the open louver. And not the easy lifting of my heart for no reason at all. But lighter, still, at the beginning of the day.
After my yoga
I lie down for chavasana
and there is a big red ant
beside my mat
where my arms want to lie.
He is hunched over
I present him
with a dry bougainvillea blossom
and he seems happy
as if it’s a new toy,
rocking the blossom
back and forth
with his weight.
Then he perches
on the top
and holds still
and all of a sudden
I am moved
by his unexpected company
my small companion
Before the election, I turn from my mailbox to see my neighbor Ted and his dog Buster walking toward me. They look happy. “I just got a letter from Mike Bloomberg,” I say. Ted teases me about how Mike and I can’t keep our relationship secret much longer, and I fall in step with them on their slow walk home. We talk politics, about who we are voting for in the primaries, about how much we both like Elizabeth Warren. We fix the world, talk about the environment. That gets me going about banning Roundup, and we talk about how people would have to be willing to tolerate some weeds or actually pull some weeds, give up a little on the pristine. We talk about edible weeds, my fondness for dandelions and their greens. (Right now another neighbor has some nice big ones behind his trailer I am quietly harvesting.) At my gate we stop. “Well, I have to get going,” I say.
“Oh, sorry,” Ted says. “I’ll get off my soapbox.”
“No,” I say. “It’s always a pleasure.” But I am instantly sorry I said I had to go. Something under my skin bubbling up, the need to finish prepping my class before I leave. But I could have been happy standing there a few more minutes, fixing the world together. I wish I had.
When did I last feel this way? Saturated, as if I can’t absorb one iota more, almost goofy with it, punch-drunk. But I don’t pull myself away from the discussion, don’t want to miss the moment, drawn to these people, swimming in this rich, lively human broth together.
[23 of 30 in November, re-posted from today’s tweet @tryingmywings]
I am early for sangha, for sitting practice and sharing, so I choose one of my favorite benches outside the dog park. It’s hot, 110 degrees, but I am shaded by a trio of young, beautiful trees, three small still-blooming palo verdes. I eat my little meal slowly, savor the crisp cabbage with guacamole, the sharp radishes with salt, the small cup of macadamias, walnuts, pistachios. It’s good to do things slowly when it’s 110 degrees, and I seem to be learning this. Small moment by small moment, I notice there is no one in the dog park, and even the birds are missing, hiding out from the heat. No one is here except me and one small verdin in the tree to my left. His presence comforts me. “Just the two of us,” I say. He moves from tree to tree within this triangle, nibbling on the tiny leaves, I think. Or maybe he is finding tiny bugs. When he flies away, I miss him. It’s just me now. But I am still content, take in the trees, the quiet, the peace. I don’t remember things going quite so still in the afternoon. I wonder if I wasn’t paying attention. The delight is our summer was delayed this year. Maybe it’s taking everyone by surprise, shocking us all into silence.