13 February 2019
Daily Dozen Gratitude List #24
In no particular order:
(Feeling gerundish today.)
As in, meditating. Frequently, yoga classes will include a few minutes of meditating. But sitting is longer. I attended a five-day silent meditation retreat four years ago, and that was a positive experience with prolonged sits, what I learned extended periods of mediation are called. I now attend a weekly Sit & Sing, and find these moments of letting the mind just be, just rest, powerful and restorative.
Kind of goes without saying, since there are all these books and written words I’ve been grateful for (see DDGL # well, many), but then I thought, I should say it, because not everyone loves reading, and I’m grateful that I do, for the enjoyment it gives me. Reading in general, and book reading in particular, have always loved stories, especially novels. More recently, I’ve enjoyed some nonfiction, often in the form of memoir and reflection. Sometimes this includes audiobooks, which is reading, but in a different way. I tend to like different genres for aural reading than for visual reading.
One of life pleasures: reading in bed, before I go to sleep, or first thing in the morning. Don’t usually do this when I’m getting up for 6am yoga, but on days when I go to a later class, I indulge in a few minutes of reading to start the day.
Not always good at this, but appreciative when I am, and am aware that I am. It’s something I like about being a writer, interviewing people and hearing their stories. Knowing the questions to ask to get a good interview, to bring a person out, to establish a rapport. That can be for professional listening, so I can then transform the words into a story readable by others, or personal, so I can hear and support what the talker has to say.
There’s a “For Better or Worse” comic I had on my fridge for a while. One of the characters submits an article assignment he’s just finished, and expresses relief at having done so. His friend says, “Wow, you must love writing!” and he responds, “I love having written.” I’ll have moments of immersion when the words flow and form and express, and moments of drudgery when they will plod toward what they need to be, and eventually get there, and I’ll just be glad they are out of me into the world, finally, at long last. Then, when I can step back, and rerereread them, and find them satisfying and what I want, then, yes, I love having written.
It’s what I do professionally, and also personally, like when friends need feedback on how to rephrase correspondence. And part of my own writing process. I enjoy it on many levels. Seeing the text and knowing what it should be and why it isn’t there yet, and how it can get there, helping to hone and shape. For bigger picture projects, I like envisioning a whole, like a book, or a multilevel publication like a magazine, and putting together the various components into a cohesive whole.
A lifelong passion. Started when I was a kid and voluntarily became the family dessert maker, then in middle school and high school, when my brother and I each cooked the family dinner twice a week, on to adulthood. I was a very picky eater, so I liked to make the food I wanted to eat. There’s the satisfaction of creating a dish, of transforming butter sugar eggs or greens garlic tomatoes, or onions and oil and time into something new and delicious. And there is the love component, the nurturing component. We need food to survive, yes, but in creating food for those we care about, it’s more than giving mere sustenance, it’s a demonstration of love. We’re saying, I know you like this food, these flavors, and I made this solely because of this. My son Gabriel once commented on something I made for him when he was a kid, that it included love, and that’s what made it taste so good. Corny, perhaps, but true just the same.
It took me a while to finally relinquish training wheels when I was a kid, with my first bicycle, a beautiful red and white classic. I outgrew it eventually and my next steed was a banana seated white Schwinn with sparkly plastic tassels hanging from the handlebars. Not sure why banana seats were ever considered a good idea, but they trended, I wanted one, saved my babysitting money, and bought the bike I had admired at the local bike shop on Connecticut Avenue. After that I segued to my mom’s circa 1970 3-speed Raleigh, a heavy and reliable clunker. I considered getting a racing bike. But then I had an accident biking with a friend one summer when I was home from college. I had borrowed my dad’s 10-speed racing bike with those curved handlebars. Much lighter and faster than the Raleigh. We were biking from northwest DC to the canal. Except, right in front of Sibley Hospital, I hit a bump and went flying. We didn’t wear helmets in those days, and I was knocked unconscious when my head hit the ground. In my mind, I was still biking along, we reached the canal by the Potomac River, and everything looked like the pointillist painting “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat, light sparkling on water as we pedaled along, people strolling with parasols. Was there a monkey?
Except then I was jerked off the bike path into an ER hallway, noise and commotion and no sunlight at all, being wheeled on a stretcher into an ambulance, because they needed to transport me to GW hospital. Dazed, confused, concussion, fractured scapula, chipped vertebrae, unable to move my left arm, unable to process where I was, the river and bike path and sunshine still vivid in my mind’s eye (and still a vivid memory to me today, decades later). I literally could not ride a bike for a while after that – I couldn’t lift my left arm, it just didn’t work for a while. I had been supposed to go to Israel for the summer in a few days, and had to delay my trip three weeks.
But, I did ride again, once I was able. And, like they say, it was like… But only the heavy, sturdy, 3-speed Raleigh. Had no desire to ride a lightweight fast bike… I did eventually buy a college friend’s 10-speed Fuji (waves to Michelle Osterfeld Li), but eventually traded it for Mom’s Raleigh, needing a commuting bike more than a stealable bike for getting around town. Of course, several years later, “only in Cambridge,” that Raleigh was in fact stolen, right off my front porch. Found another of the same vintage on ebay. And thus my 3-speed collection began… I do also have a mountain bike for cycling, versus commuting, and it is better for that. Still no interest in racing handlebars.
Before yoga, I would bike every morning along the river. Rarely do that now, but I do bike almost daily to get from here to there and back again. Great appreciation for bike shares in DC and NYC.
Goes with cooking, I suppose; I get great pleasure from my meals, from making food I know I’ll enjoy, or going out to eat and trying new foods. I had a college roommate who had no interest in food, other than as a necessity to stay alive. Could not comprehend that viewpoint. Love the tactile feel and flavor of food, savory, sweet, salty, sour, tangy, bitter, crunchy, smooth, creamy, soft, chewy, balance and textures and colors and seasoning. Grateful for appreciation of good food, the nourishment, the sustenance, the joy.
Road trips (road trip!!!), plane trips, near and far trips. Love discovering the new, revisiting the old, the away places I’ve been and return to, the other than home places that offer escapism and revelation and inspiration.