Clearly, for me, May has been a month of false starts and unfinished business, crossroads, and decision-making. Let’s try this blog post again. 🙂
Every Friday morning, I park my vehicle under a large Kwanzan cherry tree in a parking lot a couple blocks away from the Senior Center. With its fragrant double blossoms, it’s the kind of exemplary cherry tree that we associate with cherry blossom festivals in the Spring.
Two weeks ago its petals were drifting down to the pavement in flurries so thick it was accumulating like snow. Moist and slippery. And beautiful.
I was on my way to my weekly Guided Meditation Class.
I was thinking about earth—dirt, soil, compost, all of the above. I had spent a month that was more outdoors than in. I had been walking the earth, digging in the earth and thinking about digging in the earth, in the sun and in the shade, in the brutal heat and the cool rain.
I had begun April walking with Berber nomads from the desert plains to the Atlas mountains of Morocco, where the earth and the air were dry as toast. For a week, our international group of twelve were an active part of the nomadic experience 24/7.
No running water save for one lively spring that poured from a crack in the upthrust rocks on day 2. No conveniences of any sort, and millions—billions—of brilliant pinpricks of stars above by the time I slid into my sleeping bag in a new location each night. Intimately connected to the earth, with only the occasional bleating of sheep and goats breaking the silence.
When I returned, I spent a week transitioning back to modern life and crawling around in my damp gardens, thinning, transplanting, and weeding in preparation for another couple of weeks away in the outdoors.
I set out again, hiking the woods and hills in the Berkshires Mountains of western Massachusetts, enjoying “carpe diem” moments to continue the hiking momentum that had dominated my days in North Africa. Again, I hiked for hours without even noticing the time.
I found myself drawn to the trails where my literary heroes had walked, some of these trails now part of the Appalachian Trail. Went to the farm of Herman Melville and walked in his woods, climbing over fallen trees, and standing beside gardens that were still half-asleep after a long, stormy winter.
On one particularly unseasonably warm day, I climbed Monument Mountain where Melville and his friends had enjoyed these same views after a sweaty hike through mature deciduous woods scattered with the rocky remains of boulders tossed there during the Ice Age ten-thousand years ago.
Drove down to Amherst to Emily Dickinson’s home. Looked out the window from her second-floor bedroom, more gardens, more inspiration.
All of those experiences were uppermost in my mind on my way to meditation class that Friday morning.
Our theme that day: What do I have that I can share with the world?
We began with deep breaths in and deep breaths out. 4 seconds in, 4 seconds out. Belly breaths. By the time we reached the completion of our meditation, I was 8 seconds in, 11 seconds out. A new level of relaxation for me.
When I opened my eyes, I had my answer to the theme.
“Sharing my truth” is my answer. It’s been my goal for the past few years. I had dug deep into shrouded memories to write my childhood memoir after a long career as a teacher. I thought those years of teaching had (almost) been fruitless. I knew I had affected lives here and there, as most teachers do, and I had felt the reciprocal effects of my students’ lives as they taught me their life lessons. But teaching was not the career I had longed for as a child. I wanted to write, and it was a great relief when I realized later in life that it wasn’t too late.
Two days ago, our meditation theme was a variation on our earlier “sharing”. What was “our purpose” or “our calling”in life?
Suddenly I remembered the words of a school principal during one of my annual job assessments. She told me that true teachers are born, not made, and that I was a natural-born teacher.
During Friday’s meditation, those words suddenly came back to me and I understood that all those years of teaching were not for naught.
I now see that there’s a connection between my previous life’s work and my current life’s work. With my writing, I hope to, want to, will continue to teach, but on a different scale and in a different format. No longer one to one, or one to thirty, writing has the ability to be one to infinity. As a writer, our work and inspiration can carry on long after we are gone.
What is your calling? your purpose?