Contentment: sitting still in the early morning, cup of coffee in hand, looking out over the yard. This morning I am just looking at lawn, lawn and the line of woods at the back of the yard, two tall trees that shade the neighbor's yard. I managed to cut back much of the ivy that was choking them last year, but needed help with some of the bigger vines. The ivy was removed at the base but I didn't get all the long vines pulled out o the tree, now, from this window the tree looks almost hairy with the dead vines traversing its trunk. Cardinals and robin and bluebirds are cavorting in the early morning light, and yes, I do imagine the border I will eventually plant between the woods and the lawn. The garden of my dreams is always present but actually the yard in and of itself is enough. What more is needed?
People are needed of course. We all need other people, need to love and be loved. I don't work a day job where I am surrounded with people during the day. Many of my pursuits are solitary: writing, gardening, playing with needle, thread, fabric. I am past the days when empty time alone seemed overbearingly depressing. I can be content with myself, and perhaps that is primarily because I have a choice, to find balance between time spent alone and time with friends.
It has been a good week, filled with music, time with friends, and creative pursuits as well. There was a lovely performance of Haydn's Creation at the beginning of the week. Last night I went to see Aida, which was also beautifully done. Aida was the first opera I ever saw live and seeing it again reminds me of my youthful self. The choral society outdid themselves, the soloists were excellent. I am continually amazed at the dedication of local musicians and the quality of local efforts. Here we are, in Knoxville, a relatively small city, with two major choral productions in one week, and many people putting in long hours in rehearsal. Granted the musicians come from the greater metropolitan area (in government speak) which is actually a rather large geographic space, and this actually impresses me all the more. We are blessed to have people who are willing to spend time and effort to share something they love with the rest of us.
I see that music and art, fill my heart, but I also see that I sometimes overindulge. I want to go to everything, and I often try. Music fills and soothes my heart, and yet, I wonder. I always have been inclined toward too-muchness, but how much of my indulgences are running toward something, and how much is running away? I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss those evenings watching tv or movie with my beloved, companionable silence, the palpable peace of shared space. But space and time are not something to be filled. The trees remind me of that. And you can't be companionable with others if you can't be companionable with yourself; or so it seems to me. That is not to say I don't enjoy evenings at home -- they are no longer a black hole -- but do I run too much? Try to fill too much? I am not looking for a substitute for just being present.
There, I think I found the answer.
Which brings me back to what do I need? What do we need? A safe place to sleep. Food. These are basic necessities. People we care about, people who care about us. Our passions, the things we care about, including ourselves. The earth around us, our own little space on this planet, wherever it is, whatever it is, to know that this space that is our lives, that our very selves, is enough. My view through this tiny window, watching the squirrel that is running across the yard right this moment. Beauty, perfection, love, heaven -- it is all right here every day, ready to touch each of us, if only we open our eyes and our hearts.
None of the flowers shown here are visible from my window this morning. The flowers in the front yard are not visible from most of the windows in the house, and yet they greet me every day, a welcoming beacon.