So I am here at the start of week three of being home alone and it is going pretty well.
This weekend I had an online meeting with my mum and my sister Helen and a long FaceTime chat with my daughter. Helen’s husband did a live DJ set on FaceTime on Saturday afternoon before the virtual Grand National, which Helen had arranged a sweepstake for. Lots of family attended that. Also, I attended the Mindfulness Association’s Daily Connect sit and chat (free for anyone to join) on Friday and on Sunday evening. So I feel very connected with my biological family and with my mindfulness family.
Although, I feel fine on my own, I notice that I get a bit tearful when I connect and when someone is kind to me or when I see someone is kind to others. Somehow the kindness and connection seem very poignant and touch my heart more deeply than usual. The tears are more joyful than sad – bittersweet. I enjoy the long distance conversations with my neighbour, usually she is in her car, as we come together to find ways to help each other and give each other ideas to source food. I was so very grateful for the three rolls of toilet roll she gave me – who would ever have thought that?
The other thing I notice is how I am delighted by the little things. I noticed when I got my online shop last week that I was over the moon to receive some marmite! While, I am usually quite content unpacking shopping I am not usually excited or delighted about the contents of the shop. I take them for granted. When I see my fruit bowl with bananas and apples in it, I notice I am really appreciative and smile to myself inside. And I experience deep gratitude each morning as I spoon the fresh Illy coffee into the coffee pot. This is a lesson that I hope I remember when things get a bit more back to normal.
I have never been a gardener. That was my partner’s job, although I did enjoy harvesting fresh veg, then cooking and eating it. But I have planted seeds – mixed herbs, lots of basil (for pesto), spinach and kale. They are on my windowsill by my desk and I excitedly check them each morning as I sprinkle a bit of water over them to see if any have germinated. I have some seed potatoes on my kitchen windowsill preparing for planting over the Easter weekend. I even found myself listening to Gardner’s Question Time on Radio 4. I find I am enjoying gardening?
I have finished my tapestry and have started on another.
I would never have chosen what has happened. There is dreadful suffering unfolding throughout the world with more to come. I find myself worrying about older relatives and friends, especially some with underlying conditions. I find myself shaken by the fact that a man so apparently fit and healthy as the Prime Minister can deteriorate with this disease so quickly. But there is very little practically I can do about that. I stay in touch, send kind words, and I dedicate my practice and send good wishes and good will around the world.
We all have a choice (although sometimes it doesn’t seem like that). We can choose a glass half empty, poverty mentality approach of bemoaning all that is wrong (and at the moment there is much that is wrong), but this will make us miserable for no good purpose. Or we can choose a glass half full approach of appreciating and being grateful for all that is good. This will make us happy. It will also give us the resources to help those around us and to not be overwhelmed by what life is currently throwing at us.
So given that the situation is as it is, I choose to look for the opportunities it presents. And there are lots of them. Opportunities to be present and enjoy my new home and the freedoms that living alone affords me. Opportunities to do more formal meditation practice. Opportunities to enjoy the springing of spring as I walk my dogs through this beautiful deserted landscape by the river. Opportunities to see the trees as they really are, in all their glorious detail. Opportunities to enjoy the constant birdsong – the hooting of owls in the morning and evening, the drilling of woodpeckers in the day. I reflect how I was brought up in the countryside and it feels like a homecoming.
I was looking forward to attending the Easter retreat with Lama Yeshe Rinpoche at Samye Ling with my good friend Kathy. Now I am looking forward to our online Easter retreat days. I am leading the day on Sunday when we will be exploring the four immeasurable qualities of loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity, as a way of reaching out and connecting with others. I can’t wait. It would be nice to meet you there or at one of our free online evening sits.
In the meantime, be open to the opportunities that are presenting themselves to connect with ourselves, our environment and others.
Stay safe and well.