written February 20, 2008
The north wind is bitter and another winter storm is expected. All I can do is look out the window, hoping for a glimpse of deer in the alfalfa field and dream of spring and watch the dogs teasing each other with their toys.
Since I can't go outside and dig in the earth, I dig into other media: books, the internet, my mind. Lately I've participated in an online Reading Group. (http://bigpicturescrapbooking.com/) The January selection was A Thousand Splendid Suns, a thought provoking and disturbing study of women in Afghanistan. This month, it is Journal Revolution by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino.
I've journaled since the days I wrote my secrets and dreams in a teenage diary. I nearly died when I was 16 and my little brother picked the lock and read it. Over the years I've accumulated and destroyed many trees' worth of pages, I'm sure.
I've found inspiration in some wonderful books: The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, A Daybook of Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and Plain and Simple by Sue Bender, followed by the Plain and Simple Journal and Everyday Sacred. I've used everything from yellow legal pads to pretty and artsy journal books to "marbletop" composition books. (The latter have probably been my favorites, by the way.)
Sometimes I'm directed to document the simple, everyday happenings of my life. Other times, encouraged to dig into my memories, often a painful task. Sarah Ban Breathnach likens this to a safari—Swahili for journey, to leave the comfort and safety of civilization to venture into the wilderness, which, she says, "brings with it the struggle to survive and a heightened awareness of how wonderful it is just to see the sun set and rise again in the morning. Each day on a safari is lived to the fullest because it is all that is guaranteed."
Is this why I love the prairie so much? Sunset and sunrise here are spectacular. Once a city dweller said to me, "You've seen one sunset, you've seen them all." Oh, how wrong he was! Each is a new creation. And, within the span of only a few minutes, the canvas can change drastically. One November evening I watched as the sky turned golden, and with each passing second the color deepened into fire-orange into coral into deep magenta into majestic purple, and in its final stage before the light was gone, an inky dark blue.
One morning Charlie recorded a rainbow sunrise—colors bouncing off the jet trails and clouds reflected all of God's glorious palette.
Back to Sarah's prompting to live each day to the fullest....I've noticed a trend amongst scrapbookers (or, as Ali Edwards calls us, "life artists") to savor each day, each moment. Yes, it is important and fun to record those milestone occasions (birthday, holidays) and special achievements (graduation, retirement), but isn't it also interesting to look into the everyday happenings of a person's life, to see some of the details and activities that made up a "day in the life of...."?
Many cultures make no distinctions between work and play, religion and day-to-day life. (But this is fodder for an entirely different post; more on this theme another time.)
There is a contentment and satisfaction that comes with sitting back at the end of a day with my gratitude journal (or my mind) and looking over that day—if I've been mindful and observant and not taken it for granted. Did I take some time to look out the window? Did I pull my hands out of the dishwater when Charlie called me to "come and see" something—a tiny skink, a new leaf or bud on a struggling plant, a huge squash blossom, a rising harvest moon, a whole parade of turkeys strutting their way right through our yard.
Maybe what seems mundane to us now will be interesting to our grandchildren or future generations. I was thrilled to discover a ledger my grandpa kept with notations of expenditures for grain and taxes, and a similar account kept by my great-grandmother in the mid-1800s—purchases made for calico, string, medicinal powders and tinctures long forgotten, for "reciepts" for toothpowder and other home remedies. I treasure the few stories recorded by my grandparents, memories that would be forgotten if not preserved.
Will my great-granddaughter care that I ate Post's Great Grains cereal for breakfast or spent the evening struggling while pulling a needle through my quilt until a friend recommended a small square of rubber cut from an old latex glove?
A friend this week admonished me to write shorter posts for my blog. I had every intention of doing so this time, but as I told him, I have trouble being short-winded. One thought leads to another to another....
What little thing are you grateful for, or do you really appreciate today? Did you "save" it some way—journal, photo, scrapbook, e-mail, letter? Did you at least give thanks for it?