Friday, September 9, 2011

Summer Mornings on the Road: Birthday Gifts

Recently, I celebrated another birthday--always better than the alternative! I know that for some people, birthdays bring dread, but (so far!) I have always been excited about mine. Maybe it’s because mid-summer just seems to be the perfect time of year to celebrate a birthday. The warm weather and long photoperiod are like an extra helping of the natal gifts of air and light. And so, I think of the months of June and July, and a little into August, as long as the extra light lasts, as a time to allow myself a kind of extended birthday celebration. The way I celebrate is to get on my bike at the crack of dawn, before the day’s activities (even the normally early ones), and, in the extra daylight, go out and look at the world. I take in the quiet, the growing light and changing colors and shapes in the sky, the changing scenery, the smooth, continuous motion along the road. I notice my breath deepen with the moderate exertion. It fills me with a simple pleasure, with the joy, calm and freshness of morning. Most days I bring a camera and try to capture some of the images that strike me on the way. I think of the images, and the sounds and smells that accompany them, as a collection of birthday gifts. Here I would like to share some of them, in gratitude for my fifty-six years.

Putting together these images, looking back at them, I remember how sweet it was to see them, how much these birthday mornings still give me pleasure and comfort. This comfort is something of which, for one reason and another, including the hugely positive rites of passage of #1 son’s high school graduation and very successful first job, I seem to have been in particular need this past year. Maybe they are so comforting because I remember being out on the road last year, remember having these gifts and then “losing” them, and now, like my birthday, they were back: calm and beautiful and waiting no matter what kind of drama or uncertainty might be going on in my head or my life.
And, there is something I find comforting about being alone outside in nature, something that, mysteriously, comes to mind when I think about feeling, in that large and non-exclusive way, loved. I’m not sure exactly how this solitary experience can be related to something we ordinarily think of as interpersonal (love), but there it is. Maybe it has to do with nature's gratuity: as with my birthday, riches are lavished on me unconditionally; I did nothing to deserve any of it.

On a bit of a tangent, I wanted to mention an amazingly pithy book that a friend recently lent me entitled, succinctly enough, How to Be an Adult in which the author, David Richo, talks about connections between nature, beauty, and love. And while we’re wandering a bit afield, but really not completely away, I also wanted to offer this link to some music that describes, with sound, some of the feelings that my wanderings and the images in this post have evoked for me. It’s quite overtly religious, yet I think it speaks to the heart, regardless of what your beliefs might be.

I hope these offerings inspire you to seek out the gifts—birthday or otherwise—that the world offers if only we are awake to receive them.

Pure Morning