Just Being

Yesterday afternoon’s weather was close to perfect. Clear skies, the temperature ideally suited to sitting outside on the deck, soaking in early November’s version of the beauty of the forest…it is a shame the experience cannot be captured and lived again on demand. But experience on demand might lessen its power…its ability to instill a sense of awe at Nature’s ability to cause a person to feel joy, simply by being. What is it, I wonder, that enables an experience to shut down all the negative thoughts that accompany living in a harsh world? Thoughts of war, hatred, poverty, and all the rest of humanity’s self-imposed horrors can vanish—albeit only briefly—simply  because of Nature’s presence or existence or…something inexplicable.  Perhaps it is some sort of natural anesthesia, the equivalent of a numbing agent that deadens the pain of living in a world beset by so very many unnecessary problems. Whatever it is—was—yesterday afternoon was delightful. I shared it with my friend, my late wife’s sister, and her dog. The experience was enhanced, perhaps, by a cocktail (gin & tonic), but even without that, simply sitting and feeling the air was close to spectacular. Watching the way sunlight changes the colors of leaves as the sun moves across the sky reminded me of how remarkable the world can be, if only we sit and observe it.


Later, as I pondered whether to watch television and, if so, what to watch, it occurred to me that the experience of enjoying Nature a few hours earlier stayed with me. I did not need to find a riveting program to grab my attention…I could be satisfied with anything I happened upon. I ended up watching a news/crime documentary (I do not recall the name…it is a regular broadcast television series) that investigated the crimes of a charismatic criminal who created and led a cult, killing cult members periodically so the cult could collect their life insurance money. Needless to say, watching the program had an unpleasant effect on my earlier euphoric mood. I did not need to watch it. But I did. We (I) can ruin our own experiences if we let ourselves do it.


Light came to the skies early this morning, thanks to turning back the clock. Would it not be wonderful to be able to “turn back the clock” by years, instead of just an hour? I would be extremely grateful to the universe if I could turn the clock back twenty years, giving me the opportunity to live those years again without making the mistakes I made along the way. If I could relive that time period, always conscious of avoiding those mistakes, I could be a happier man. And the people around me could be happier, as well. Some of the actions I took—or did not take—were mistakes, but some were either intentional missteps or the results of thoughtlessness. We cannot turn back time, though. In place of that ability, we experience regret, the price we pay for our many failings.


It’s late. I need to shower, shave, and dress for the day. I will go to church in a bit. When I return home, perhaps I will accomplish some of the tasks I delayed…again…yesterday and the day before. Time will tell.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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