Somewhere in me lives a switch that flips between hope and despair and some hand other than mine flicks it off and on. Sometimes I awaken with the full weight of this weary world’s woes pressing down on me, Atlas’s boulder more than I can shoulder. Other times, I awaken whole and hopeful, that jagged rock a toy balloon floating freely and lifting me up in the air. Like today.
I awoke early and jumped straight into the heart of the beast with my blog “Meanwhile” without losing heart. I played piano without demanding comfort from each note, just the full-voiced power of an honest voice. The buses ran on time, I taught two beautiful classes playing beautiful music with beautiful 4th grade children and that beauty smoothed the sharp edges of all that ugliness viewable at an AOL News click and brought color to the dismal grays. I rode the next bus head buried in a breathtaking book that brought me to a faraway land right at my feet.
And here I sit looking out at the San Francisco Ferry Building, with its regal Clock Tower and majestic squares and circles designed by architects who sought to inspire and uplift. The Bay Bridge stretches out over the calm Bay waters, cars criss-crossing back and forth like nerve impulses connecting the axons and dendrites of the intelligent East Bay-San Francisco brain. The faint music of ice skating in Justin Hermann Plaza, the light drone of traffic punctuated by the squawk of gulls. Nearby are tables filled with people of all hues chatting amiably, as it of course should be. Beauty before me, beauty above me, beauty behind me.
Some days a distant headline can fool our over-active brain, over-ride the peace and equanimity right at our fingertips with worry and fear, rampage through the countryside of the mind shouting “The sky is falling!!” Chicken Little is not wholly wrong and we can’t ignore the voice altogether. But we need time to breathe and feel all the layers of reality, starting with the one at our side right here, right now. The sun descends, the air grows colder, my afternoon coffee tastes good. This is true. This is real. This is needed.
This rare sense of contentment is not for display, not marketable, not capturable on a thermostat that you can set and depend on. It’s a matter of grace. And when grace finds us, we sit with others of all times and places who have made space for her. Sitting on the bench next to me is my old friend, W.B. Yeats, who wrote the words to say this moment:
When such as I cast out remorse, so great a sweetness flows into the breast.
We must dance and we must sing. We are blessed by everything.
And everything we look upon is blessed.
And so it is.
At least until tomorrow’s headlines.