My English god-daughter took this photo from our deck. (I grabbed it off her sister’s Facebook while ‘stalking’ my own daughter’s Facebook page. Apologies to all for my creepiness.) My goddaughter’s mother, Lucy, is my oldest friend and the one person whose always-joyful countenance kept me from cracking up when I thought I would die of homesickness at our British boarding school – a lifetime ago.
My nephew, George, just recently gave me the prayer flags now hanging from our deck. He found them at the Tibetan market in Delhi, where he lived for four years. I like watching the wind rippling through them. In certain lights, they are vivid; in others, they look almost translucent and totally drained of color. Looking out across the valley to the ancient, softened mountain tops of New Hampshire, it’s easy to imagine generations of Buddhist monks, living their unchanging lives among vastly taller (but newer) mountains than these, planting their bright flags, like talismans, against a barren, ungenerous landscape. I can almost feel our whisper-light chronological footprint on the earth, etched into the blues and greens and golds of the horizon. For some reason this thought comforts rather than alarms me. (Despite the ruinous tortures we are inflicting on the world, we’re only here for a brief instant in time. I want to savor it and be thankful for it.)
I was taking a nap the other afternoon when my ten year-old niece called out that a balloon was overhead. The mere thought of a hot air balloon makes me dizzy with happiness, much less one actually passing across my front lawn. (Never mind that my fear of heights almost exceeds my fear of snakes. I’m not saying I would ride in a balloon, just that I love the idea of one.) Another ephemeral moment. I feel overwhelming gratitude for my own bookended journey: My 20 year-old son is returning home tonight, on my birthday, from ten weeks in China. I yearn for all my children, no matter how close or how far they are from me, at the same time that I’m incredibly grateful for the stage of life where they don’t return the sentiment. I’m grateful to my husband for supporting me in so many ways over many years, including financially, so that I could be free to pursue my dreams – one of which is to learn to write. I am grateful for my health and friendships and the education my parents worked hard to provide me. I am grateful for the chance to connect with new people through my writing, and to hear new perspectives. Nature says it best. Just wanted to share this rare moment of steady, contemplative solitude. Peace.