The Elegance of the Season of Now

My mother, daughter, and I stand next to one another in front of a sunny window on a January day. The trees outside are bare on this crisp and clear afternoon. “The trees will be so pretty in the spring,” I say, instantly regretting my words.

I’m learning to appreciate the elegance of the moment in which I find myself. I think of a saying I’ve always loved, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift…that’s why they call it the present.”

Like rings marking the age of a tree, the figures in the hazy reflection represent three distinct generations. Each woman feels a certain amount of relief and discomfort about the season she is in. They all fight the urge to get stuck reminiscing the past or dreaming of the future.

My mother is the most deeply rooted of us. She is a towhead little girl, a beautiful bride, a young mother, a devoted grandmother, and a grieving widow. She says she didn’t expect to live so long and doesn’t want to be a burden. How I wish she understood she’s no more a burden than a stately tree providing solace, shade, beauty, and grace.

I’m part of the sandwich generation, those of us firmly in the middle of adult children we still worry about and parents who need our care. I’m retired now, leaving me to find identity within my relationships. I am a little tired and no longer young, but I am still growing.

At thirty-one, my daughter is in full bloom. She faces the daily excitement and anxiety of a demanding profession in a bustling city. She is a newlywed and first-time homeowner still unsure if she will choose to become a mother herself. If not unaware, she is at least indifferent to her skin so soft and supple, her body so long and lithe, her mind so sharp and strong.

The three of us stand silent, deep in our individual and collective thoughts. The significance of our coming together for just a moment to look out the window at the trees, mysteriously dormant yet pulsing with life, is palpable.

The trees stand strong, bold, and elegant against the bright blue sky. They hold both the memory and the promise of green leaves and fresh blossoms, but on this cold winter day they are living fully in the season of now. §

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” 
~Eckhart Tolle

2020 Vision – a look at our resolutions halfway through a wacky year

Way back in late December, most of us looked ahead to the new year with enthusiastic focus and clarity. Six long months later, it might seem our 2020 vision was blindsided.

We never saw it coming!

The coronavirus pandemic. A presidential impeachment. Record-breaking unemployment. Wildfires. A drone assassination. Murder hornets. A global shut-down. Social unrest. Plane and helicopter crashes. Saharan dust clouds. Masks. An imploding economy. It’s enough to forget the UK exited the EU and Harry and Meghan packed up the baby and exited Buckingham Palace.

In times like these, we’re tempted to throw all that vision stuff right out the window, but having a clear focus for our lives is even more crucial during uncertain times. Truth be told, people have always lived in chaotic times. That’s the human condition.

A crazy year is no time to abandon our intentions for living a better life. “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision,” wrote Helen Keller.

Since we’re halfway in, now is a good time to think about how we’re doing. My own vision for 2020 is encapsulated in the word seasons. Come along with me to see how I’m doing so far, particularly in light of the pandemic.

  • This year I intend to enjoy the natural beauty and seasonal gifts offered by nature. Honestly, the quarantine has made this even easier. Since we’ve been staying home, I’ve spent lots of time watching our world slowly morph from winter to spring to summer. In my stillness, visits by woodland critters haven’t escaped my notice. Against the steady beat of the daily news, I’ve appreciated more than ever the peace and beauty nature faithfully provides.
  • This year I intend to embrace my current season of life. At 58 years old, I’m as comfortable in my own skin as I’ve ever been. In the scheme of things, wrinkles, age spots and wild strands of white hair seem like silly things to worry about. I’m grateful for a body that will never be tall and thin, but is fabulously strong and healthy. When I hear the increasing number of people who have died from Covid-19, I’m reminded of my own mortality and the gift of each and every day.
  • This year I intend to show compassion to those in more challenging seasons of life. Since my husband and I are retired, we haven’t had to navigate working from home. We haven’t faced unemployment or financial insecurity. We haven’t felt loneliness or isolation. The pandemic has given us the opportunity to extend empathy and help to those who don’t have it as easy as we do right now.

A mid-year evaluation of our vision brings it back into focus and reminds us to make it a daily priority. So what was your vision for 2020, and how’s it going? There are still six months left in this wacky wonderful year. What do you intend to do with those months, weeks, days and hours?

Nelson Mandela offers this wisdom, “Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.” §

Note: This post was published in Minimalism Life’s Journal earlier this week. You can read it and subscribe here: https://minimalism.life/journal/2020-vision