What if nature makes no judgments, has no worries, carries no regrets? What if everywhere, in everything, all the energy from the sky and earth goes into making life happen? I look out my window at the shad and the blackberries and at all of the scrubs and vines that densely intertwine in our maritime climate. Where they were bare and frozen just over a month ago, their shoots are suddenly shining through all the tangles and prickles in all of their new, green glory. That’s where the energy is going.
I, on the other hand, forget this. I habitually put my energy into forming extraneous concerns.
For example, I mailed the big lens back to Canon a week ago, this past Monday. That is, the $11,000 lens I had borrowed under the Canon Professional Services Program with the promise to get it back to them on time. I used priority, registered mail. So the lens got to Boston (it was going to Virginia) and sat there for a day and a half. I went on line and tracked it, sometimes every five minutes. I called the US Postal Service customer “help line.” I encountered one of those automated phone systems carefully designed to be a blank wall. I got mad. I called again. Called again. Called again, until the system finally hung up on me. I drew conclusions about the entire federal government and the direction of everything in general. I voiced my opinions to my husband, painting a picture of a future where everything will exist at the pleasure of an infinitely obstructive and impersonal machine. I considered moving to Alaska and living off the grid.
The lens was still in Boston on the day that it was due. I called our postmaster who carefully explained that registered mail is secure enough to carry gold bullion; that each package is handled like a precious child of the universe and kept under lock and key; that the 2 – 3 day promise in this context or should we say, "estimate," means… (she said this more professionally but this was the gist of it)… nothing. Our postmaster went out of her way to care about my problem, even to the extent of researching and calling me back with more information, but could not do anything about it. I finally called Canon. I explained the situation and they understood. In fact, they were extremely nice about it. They looked at the tracking number and said that it was clear I had mailed the lens in plenty of time. They said not to worry. They said (exact words), “no harm, no foul.” They gave me an extension.
Problem? Solution. I could have skipped all those hours, all that head banging, all that smoke and steam in between.
So I set an intention to preserve and protect my precious state of mind. I thought of the pure life energy pouring and running through everything. I said, “It is there for me as much as it’s there for the blackberry bushes in my yard.” I said, “As vast as it is, it’s completely generative and completely intimate and personal, exactly the opposite of the electronic call-in system of the US Postal Service.” I said, “I will be calm. I will skip all the fretting and stewing. I will match the world. I will put my energy completely into life-affirming action.”
So do you know what happened next? I got back to my car with my dogs, in the rain, and could not find my car keys. I reminded myself that my life was not at stake but I got upset anyway. I cleaned the car, combed the brush and grasses around the car, re-hiked the entire hike I had just finished. I finally found them in a strange spot where I think Molly, my golden retriever, had put them. I also got upset about something with the summer rental of our house. Then got upset because a good friend is sick. Then my cousin was upset so I got upset for her sake. Then I got upset, just because I was so upset about so many things at once.
Then I worked on my pictures.
I saw how this blue heron let the wind pass through and ruffle her feathers to slow her down for landing.
And how she landed in between the branches without poking her eyes out or skewering her wings.
And how she flew through the shadows with the open field and the luminous leaves in the distance behind her. And I thought that seasons have always changed like this, that light has always shown through new green shoots, and that birds have always flown like this, since primordial days.
And that is how I calmed down.
I know it is one thing to aspire to a state of mind and another to achieve it. I'm glad to have found this practical, physical thing I can do that works for me, this thing that brings me to such peace and wonder. This doesn't change my circumstances, I mean, we all have things to be upset about, but it does give me a foundation of trust in the natural world, and that gives me a place to stand.
PS. These pictures were taken with my regular equipment because the extra special super amazing lens was already glacially working its way back to Canon. I had been to this same place with that lens the week before and the heron were nowhere to be found.
I don't want to talk about it.