Cherishing Perfect and Imperfect Days
A brief missive on appreciating the good, and hard, in every day as another busy week unfolds
As the epic heat dome ebbs over the central United States but Texas and Louisiana poach, as Canada’s off-charts fires continue to rage and a hurricane forecast has Florida’s upper Gulf Coast (hopefully) putting up the storm shutters, my newish home state, Maine, has been mostly magical. Saturday morning saw the end of a rainy stretch; by late afternoon we had a cartoon sky and barely a breeze, making kayaking a meditative glide over glassy waters.
Sunday night was equally serene, with a waxing moon doing peek-a-boo through broken clouds over our inlet.
I shared some video clips on Twitter/X and Facebook but kept my words to a minimum.
In the meantime, our friend, a naturalist, author and president of the Institute for Humane Education, which trains teachers how to foster “solutionary” capacities in students, posted a marvelous reflection on her Maine Saturday on Facebook. She gave me permission to share her post here. (For context, her husband, Edwin Barkdoll, is a retired veterinarian who now helps determine causes of death in loons, seals or other aquatic fauna.)
Some days are surprisingly perfect. They are usually days when I have few expectations. Today was one of those days. Edwin was called in to do a necropsy on a gray seal, so our Saturday hike with the dogs was cancelled, and it was cloudy and wet after a stormy 24 hours, so the weather wasn't particularly appealing. Nonetheless, I was eager to roam the woods to look for black trumpet mushrooms, and I was happy as could be foraging 6 pounds of them before slipping on a rock and falling hip deep into a fast moving stream. But I didn't mind. The bag of mushrooms wasn't submerged; the phone in my pocket was waterproof; and it was just water after all. No biggie.
When I got home I made lunch for dear friends with whom I had made impromptu plans. Good friends are a blessing beyond measure, and I felt so much gratitude for them and happiness sharing the mushrooms I'd gathered. When they left I weeded the garden, walked the dogs, went for a swim, and gathered food from the garden for supper, and each of these things filled me with even more gratitude. And then I made a meal with that food from the garden and the mushrooms, and Edwin returned home just in time for dinner, and because the clouds had lifted and were puffy and beautiful and the winds had stilled, I went to the ocean to paddleboard with the herons, seals, pogies, loons, cormorants, terns, and eagles at sunset.
And so ended a completely unexpected perfect day. Not all days will be like this, and my perfect day coincided with another friend's terrible loss of her husband this past week, and another dear friend heading into a second round of chemo on Monday, and the pain and suffering of so many humans and nonhumans as I type these words. Yet, to be able to hold joy and sorrow at once, fully present, grateful for this moment to take another breath and live life as fully as possible, whether on a day "off" like today, or hard at work trying to minimize the suffering in our world during the week, that's my goal. Today I met it.
I hope always to be able to hold joy and sorrow at once - a capacity encapsulated in the Portuguese word saudade.
Please share insights you draw from your perfect and imperfect days.
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