about bliss

Monday, May 23, 2011

daily bliss: spring awakening

Yesterday afternoon I curled on the couch with a stack of cookbooks, flipping through asparagus recipes and cold salads and then the rest of The New York Times Cookbook, suddenly hungry for everything.

"What are you looking for?" Gregg wondered, as he watched Finding Forrester.

"Oh, salads, asparagus, you know."

But really, I was looking for my hunger, my craving, my passion, my self.

And I could feel it in those pages, but more so in the simple act of browsing through recipes without a clear purpose other than interest, inspiration, and possibility.

This morning I walked along the lake, buffeted by brisk winds--the kind that whip up waves as they blow warm air across Lake Michigan's chilly expanse. I pushed up my sweatshirt sleeves and removed my fleece headband. Even as daffodils dot swaths of grass, I still dread the possibility of heavy, wet snowflakes.

The winter was long, precipitous, and mostly, hard.

Between increased responsibility and stress at work, political turmoil involving said work, minor medical issues, ailing family members, and my usual seasonal affective disorder, this winter replaced my passion and bliss with incessant anxiety and low level depression. I was functional, going to work, connecting to a small circle of family and friends, cooking and eating meals. I was not, however, thriving. My creativity and passion plummeted. My activity decreased; my weight increased. Bereft in April, I wondered where I was, who I was.

And so today, I slept late. I ate light. I walked long. I engaged my senses: damp marine scent, chipper bird song, the light touch of my hair blowing on my face, the sweetness of last summer's strawberries in a smoothie, the cycles of sun and clouds against grey and blue sky. Mostly, I sensed the feeling of recovery.

As I walked the familiar trail, I found these words to share this story, a common one, I'm sure, but one that needs telling just the same. How bliss can disappear when we forget the greater sacredness above the daily tumult. How fear can overwhelm when we forget that life's beauty is in its transience. How love and quiet and solitude and compassion and companionship and music and ritual and incense and movement and kindness can lead us back to our bliss, back to ourselves, and then, back, more fully, to the world.

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