Once again, it’s that time of year when the buzz is all about new year resolutions. Humanity’s eternal quest to be given a new chance at becoming and doing better. Find a new job/ lose weight/ train for a marathon/ join a book club/ save more money/ go organic – there is a never ending list of commitments. Sound familiar? The very essence of being human is that we are imperfect and must therefore keep trying to overcome our shortcomings yet knowing all the while that perfection is unattainable. As I’ve said before, I’m not one for specific resolutions. Typically, I just strive to try harder in general. That is a full time job in itself.
Considering that these personal reformations are life-long endeavors, I’m not going to even reiterate them to myself. They just are. Like shadows that faithfully follow even when we don’t notice. Instead, I’m giving myself a one word cue to apply to everything. The word is, drum roll please – CELEBRATE.
We know to duly acknowledge the big events. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and such. But the reality is that the days and happenings we look upon as routine or mundane are fraught with reasons to celebrate. We’ve come to take so much for granted that we fail to recognize the wonder and miracles that honor our lives every single day. I felt this lack in me this year – for, while I was mostly preoccupied with big happenings and doing a fair amount of travel, I completely missed the numerous simple yet special moments that occur all the time no matter what else is going on.
In spring I got so immersed in getting ready for a solo art show, house guests, garden open day and my daughter’s high school graduation, that I failed to fully appreciate the myriad incredible moments in the garden. This was a particularly good spring. Yet, I spent so little time celebrating it. Oh, I certainly hosted a couple of garden parties, took a decent number of photographs of the horticultural splendor and airily pointed them out to anybody within earshot, but I didn’t truly give anything their just due. Every plant fulfilling its role in the garden deserves congratulations and thanks. A proper pause to admire and bask in their beauty is worth the effort. It is a moment to get outside of myself and focus on these treasures. The deep sense of well-being and enrichment I get from doing so is priceless.
The timely opening of the different flowers, the fragrance of hyacinths signaling the commencement of spring, the arrival of bees as the apple blossoms peak, wrens resettling themselves in the bluebird box, the early morning cacophony of avians tuning up for chorus, the cicadas repeating their song all summer long, the flashes of red as cardinals flit in and out of the rose covered apple tree, fireflies punctuating the sultry nights of summer, the drama of a good rain shower and the refreshed state of the garden following it, the turn of color as fall picks up speed, the quietness of a blizzard, the brilliance of light just before the sun begins to set. So many daily acts of grace that go uncelebrated. So many opportunities to feel good gone untaken.
Similarly, awakening the senses to the smell of coffee first thing in the morning, the sleepy greeting of a loved one emerging from the embrace of a cozy bed, the porch light twinkling its welcome at the end of a long day away, the unexpected note from a friend simply saying hello, the completion of a project be it big or small, the discovery of a $ 5.00 note in the glove compartment of the car, a favorite song coming through the radio just when you needed a boost, reading a really good book, coming upon a painting that seems to speak to your soul, finding the cherished scarf you thought you’d lost, the smile of a stranger as you pass on the escalator. Little sparks of comfort and goodness light up our days constantly. Are we paying attention?
So, by reminding myself to ‘Celebrate’, I’m going to be more present in all the quotidian goings on. When the peonies explode open is cause to pop the champagne. A morning of weeding and tidying calls for a luxurious soak in the tub. Invite a a few friends for a simple meal of homemade pasta with fresh pesto when the basil is ready for its first harvest. A quick watercolor to mark the unfurling of the roses. A poem to honor the parade of tulips. Wake the family with muffins loaded with just-picked blueberries. ( Place a rose-geranium leaf at the bottom of each muffin cup and then pour the batter. The fragrance is heavenly). In commemorating and rejoicing, we are expressing our gratitude in being fully alive and attuned to the world. How much more human can that be?
I wish each and everyone a year of miracles and celebrations. Every, single day.
While the unusually warm winter days are being favored with plants showing signs of spring, we might as well enjoy the sight. Give them some rightful attention. After all, who knows what will happen when spring months arrive? Below are photos taken this past Sunday at the Cloisters. The gardens looked like it was April. Including the fact that it was raining gently as though coaxing the plants awake.
(c) 2015 Shobha Vanchiswar