Monday, September 12, 2011

Losing touch

The sky is blue in the water

I walked over two beaver dams today to get to the other side of the pond, and I’m writing right now while sitting on moss, surrounded by lily pads and felled cedar. I have about fifteen minutes before the real sun dips below the pines, and already it’s 58 degrees. My intention, all summer, has been to put on boots and trek over here, but when it’s warm enough to leave the long underwear behind, the bugs are too bad to sit still. I was inspired this morning, reading Glenna Smith.

She says, at 85, “At last I’ve learned to be aware of the world around me. I use all my senses all the time.” And she quotes Goldie Hawn, of all people: “Today, I’m the youngest I’ll ever be, and I had better make the most of it.”

Today is what constitutes a big outing in Aroostook County. I should have brought a thermos of coffee and a picnic. I’m trying to go into winter full armed this year, and this afternoon, spent with the alder and the fungi, will be an arrow in my quiver. It’s hard to feel, every day, the loss of another fifteen minutes of daylight. Once the dark descents, most nights I click on the television, and I'm realizing how corrosive that is.

Maybe what made my blog so interesting on the boat and on the trail wasn’t so much any adventure, but the lack of a television. I was forced to entertain myself, spending hours staring into a campfire or watching a sea cucumber pump sand through its digestive tract. We used to spend hours listening to music, playing cards by candlelight, the way people amused themselves before electricity. I still have gin rummy scores carefully notes in my little notebooks.

Now I feel peeved if I miss Jon Stewart, thankfully syndicated on Canadian channels. In the winter, the addiction to television gets worse. I wish I were brave enough to kill it entirely. I’ve never bought a TV, in my life, but I’ve been given at least a dozen. Misery loves company. But the hardest thing is kripalu, having compassion for myself, not condemning myself for my own weakness. I keep meeting yogis who attended trainings at an institute named for kripalu, the Sanskrit word for compassion.

To merely sit and be at peace for this moment, grateful for this place, for the warmth still in the atmosphere, for the dragonflies and spiders, for electricity and heat, grateful even for modern media. I want to assert my control over these digital influences. Maybe the true victory will be when I can own a television and still choose to spend an evening playing cards by candlelight.

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