I’m sitting on my veranda this morning in what is an incredible day. It’s 72 degrees or so, the breeze is cool and coming from the ocean and is washing every part of my body with a sense of being alive on this beautiful day. The ibis are feeding in a foot or so of water at the base of our backyard, just a few feet away from a 10-foot alligator who’s snoozing in the hot sun in about a foot of water. They don’t seem to be bothered, giving the lie to the rumor that the way you tell if a gator is in your lake is if the birds are gone.
Two red-shouldered hawks are circling overhead when a gigantic pelican goes swishing by, so huge that his shadow creeps across the veranda, making my wonder if an airplane hasn’t just passed by. (We occasionally get an eagle here, the only flying object that’ll scare the vultures off.)
Down the shore a little a group of muscovey mock the gator’s presence, as if to say, “See if we care. You’ll never catch us.”
And yesterday I filmed an otter a few feet from our yard who skittered away into the water before I had a chance to get a good look at him.
I’m thinking of all this because before I retired I had so many things I wanted to accomplish: write a novel (I did that but the result was embarrassing), make documentary films (I’ve done about 50 of the things, but they were only little videos about various family adventures).
Of all that, I find just sitting here in the sun to be my greatest, and most satisfying, accomplishment–that I’m able to just accept that I’m nobody exceptional but I know enough now to appreciate the gifts that have been given to me, the acceptance that this is all there is but it can be pretty damn good and that growing old and its eventual consequence isn’t all that intimidating.
I’m reminded of the time a student told the great Buddhist monk Susuki-roshi that she was afraid to think of dying and Susuki responded, “You will always be in the Universe in some form.”
So this is the form that I’m in today!
We’ll be doing a fair amount of traveling this summer, starting with a trip to Italy in June for 3 weeks. Our daughter, Lesley, and her husband are meeting us in Spoleto, Italy, and from there we’ll all spend a week or 10 days together in Rome.
Then we fly to Philadelphia where Barbara’s brother is celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary.
Finally, in August, Hillary and her family are coming to Florida for 2 weeks of relaxation and Disney World.
All very exciting, but nothing as exciting as sitting in the sun and being alive in the Universe in some form.