I am addicted to gathering information about vacations, Alaska, ocean front property, antique commercial buildings, sailboats, and so many other escapist activities. I have spread sheets, shopping lists, and cost comparisons. (Don’t ask me to be that organized with my actual life) I think of this fantasy world as wise planning. In case I suddenly come into a fortune, I would not want to be caught ill prepared. (Again, don’t ask me to be prepared in my actual life) I spend a ridiculous amount of time planning things that are seriously never going to happen, even if the money did fall out of the sky, for many practical reasons. But just in case it does, I am prepared.
Despite my active fantasy, shopping world, I am content with my modest life. In fact, there are times when I think about going on a vacation and begin to think of all the stress involved and decide to just stay home and be in my own space. I am that way about restaurants as well. I start thinking about the noise and distractions making it difficult to have a good, connected, conversation. Suddenly, thawing meat is a good idea. Lunch dates are not so bad, but I guess the crowds are larger at night or maybe people just talk louder and drop more things at night. I like people. Really, I do. The older I get, I guess I enjoy more meaningful conversations and that is difficult to have in a crowded restaurant. I think I would enjoy a television restaurant. They only have five tables and are very, very quiet and always serve exotic dishes like eel, and Duck a la something. You can’t get that at Cracker Barrel.
I am pretty old but I really enjoy riding my bike. (I am going somewhere with this) People usually stare at me as though they think I may break a hip or something, but I don’t care. I love the quietness of slowly passing trees, flowers, and families playing together or walking their dogs. Sometimes I pass other bikers. They are usually exercising and dressed for the part. I feel self-conscious for two seconds, speed up and try to act like I am not having fun, and then continue my leisurely ride. I forcefully persuade my twelve-year-old son to go with me because some day he will treasure these little jaunts. Now, to get to my point. I dream about many things, but I have learned to enjoy the ground that I am planted in. I make it my goal to bloom, not just tiny, little, obscure blooms, but huge, brilliantly colored blooms.
The good things in life are free, but you have to make an effort to see them. Anyone, anywhere, can have a lovely picnic in a local park. Every town has a park. Be a tourist for a day. Nobody cares how stupid they look on vacation. Once, when we were poor and bored out of our minds, we planned a mud, football game. We invited our neighbors, spent an entire day wasting water, watering our dirt yard (We were living in the high desert of the Sierra Madres in Mexico). We then found a soccer ball (Mexican futbol)to be used as a football (American Football) which, I don’t actually know anything about, but I set the whole thing up. It was a scream and a huge hit. I still cringe at the waste of water, but at the time It seemed a worthy sacrifice and was a perfect icebreaker for making new friends and enjoying our new third world country home’s lush landscaping.
There is a book by Linda Dillow called Calm My Anxious Heart. It had many more words than this but the essence of it is NEVER COMPLAIN ABOUT ANYTHING, NOT EVEN THE WEATHER. I recommend it. I read it during a difficult time. Complaining is not productive. I am still found guilty of it at times. I am fearful that Linda Dillow will hear me and come out of my closet and make a disappointing face at me. That’s how powerful the book was. When I read it, I thought I had plenty of reasons to complain. I was living in a fifty-year old farm house that we completely gutted. It looked like a nuclear testing sight. There was only one room that was habitable, so we lived in there with our four kids, while we finished the rest.
Gradually, I became the most grateful shack-dweller in the world and began to make big, beautiful blooms. Once I stopped focusing on the chaos and looked for ways to bring peace and order, things began to take shape. It takes effort to make beauty out of garbage. It also takes effort to seize the day and make it lovely. Don’t wait until everything is in place. Plan to add some color to your daily grind. Some day, you will look up and realize that all the pain and pruning of life made you strong, beautiful, and grateful, and the sweet memories that you made along the way, are the most valuable things you possess. There is no circumstance that a willing heart can not look up and say to its maker, “help me make this a life where lovely flowers can bloom”. Don’t just exist in the grind. Aim to bloom, huge, vibrant and fragrant flowers of contentment.