A New Way of Life
One of the most beautiful things to come of this horrific time is a chance to sit, look, breathe, smell and taste with full attention, gratitude and enjoyment. Somehow, with the dissolution of most obligations and plans for the future, we are left with the present. All I have is that which surrounds. Every morning, I look out the bedroom window, and gaze upon the collection of wildlife and greenery which layers itself in front of a backdrop of mountains in our hometown in CA. I trek over to the kitchen, and enjoy the smell of fresh Peet’s ground beans as I brew up coffee. I check up on the little mason jar of yeast to check for bubbles and growth. So far, most days have shown small growth, but it is something. Then, I go check on the herbs outside. I peruse for any new leaves, good or bad signals of watering needs, and make the daily decision to bring them inside for house warmth, or leave them to bask in the sun, if the sun makes an appearance that day.
Then most mornings, I will tune in for a zoom class, or do some score studying, listen to a new piece of music, or do some light reading. Most of the mornings consists of this until I can find a large chunk to start practicing. I have been so lucky to use my older brother's room as a practice space, where I can escape for a workplace. I use my laptop to play along with Joe Alessi and his fundamental routine, and usually try to do most of my practicing in one long session with little breaks. The breaks I take are usually for re-filling up on coffee, water, or going outside. This usually brings me until the start of sun set, where cooking plans begin, the oven gets turned on, and we decide what to make for that day. Recently, we have embarked on pizza making, okonomiyaki, red curry soup, grilled burgers, eggplant parmesan, homemade pasta sauce with fresh herbs from the garden, cake from scratch, and grilled salmon upon a bed of collard greens. We have all been thoroughly enjoying the chance to be adventurous and creative in the kitchen, and just celebrate every creation. Every dinner is a moment to appreciate.
In the early evenings, Tim and I usually take a stroll around the block and just look and listen. We observe the different intricacies of each house, how ornate many of the front doors and garages are, how the shapes of the houses around here are never quite the same, and how many different plants we can name in the gardens. We talk about what we like and dislike and subconsciously plan out our dream houses one day. And, we enjoy every chance to see another human face, and for a brief moment, enjoy the chance to acknowledge them and how they must be feeling. We exchange the awkward t-rex wave, or a closed smile and friendly nod. Or, we’ll go up to the trail by Garrod stables and walk amongst the best views that Saratoga has to offer. At the peak, we relish in the opportunity to see the horses eating dinner, listen deliberately to the symphony of birds chirping, and feed the eyes of the different shades of green that surround us. It is one of the most exquisite places I have ever been to, and somehow never gets old, day after day.
As the evening takes hold, we have been watching a variety of different movies, shows or operas on the TV. Really whatever strikes interest on that day. We aren’t too picky about what to watch, as long as we just watch something together. And usually this brings us to the end of the night. If it isn’t evident; each day has just been magnificent because of the opportunity to soak in the present. There is nothing to do but smell the roses and plants around the block, or taste the different spices in the soup, or listen to how passionately the soprano is singing in the opera. Each day that we wake up alive and healthy is truly a blessing, and because of that, I feel fulfilled.
Now, I realize that I am very, very lucky to be able to live with family, and take a breather away from working, while many still have to risk their lives going to work. I feel for those people, and the daily danger they must face to carry the shoulder of society on their back. Thank you to anyone still trudging along. For those of us that have the luxury of isolating at home, I wonder if anyone else has learned from the ability to just sit and be. Is it possible to to keep this peaceful way of life even as the obligations pick back up some day? Imagine if it would be possible to be so intentional with the present and give back to life and be an active participant in society? That sounds like the dream. Maybe too good to be true. In the meantime, I’m just going to soak in this time and enjoy every single moment with my family and in this beautiful place we call home, and for the chance to just sit, listen, eat, and be, fully in the present.