There are some mornings when the drive through of our neighborhood fast food joint is more like a parking lot. I haven’t been able to figure out why, because there’s no pattern to it. Maybe someone forgot to set the hashbrowns to fry. Maybe they’re besieged by an unexpected influx of breakfast sandwich seekers. Maybe it’s Monday and someone forgot to take their give-a-damn vitamin. Whatever. All I know is, I’m stuck in line, waiting impatiently for my ham and cheese croissant and plastic lidded coffee. Every cell in my body is revved and ready to go, go, go. I have work to do! I’m scrolling through my smartphone, answering emails while I listen to an NPR podcast that I think makes me smarter. I’m trying to maximize every moment, by which I mean I am desperately doing everything I can to transport myself out of this enforced inactivity. As we inch along, I find myself breathing harder, my fingers gripping the steering wheel. How can we call this fast food? Why don’t we call it hastily-prepared-inexpensively-priced-but-lackadaisically-delivered food? WHERE IS THE PROFESSIONALISM?
As I rage inwardly, I see the driver ahead of me open her door and stick her head out. She’s an older woman with cropped silvery hair and she’s driving a weathered red pickup with gardening stuff in the back. We’re still a couple of car-lengths from the window, but I wonder if she’s going to berate the cashier (“A ten minute wait for a #3 special? What sort of mockery is this!?”). She does not. There are several scraggly rose bushes growing in the narrow strip of dirt that bands the drive through lane, planted, I am sure, to mitigate the sterile ugliness of the cement block building. The blossoms are just at window height. The woman leans toward them and cups a bright fuschia bloom in her hand. She does it the way I stroke my daughter’s cheek before I kiss her goodnight: tenderly, and with wonder. She closes her eyes, inhaling, and then with a faint smile, she pats the flower and its surrounding mates. Thank you, she seems to be saying. There’s a good little flower. Then she pulls her door shut and rolls forward to pick up her order.
Funny how, when you need it most, the Universe reaches down to bop you in the head with a reminder to just freaking cool it, already. I’m sitting there, slightly chagrined but mostly delighted because I could not have received a more timely or obvious reminder to stop and smell the flowers.
It is with this intention that I present to you the first of what will be a weekly series of Joyful Meditations. I got into this habit when my daughter was a baby and I fell out of it because, well, no good reason. It’s time to take it up again, and I hope you will join me and share your own Joyful Meditations in the comments. First, you list three things that were good. If you have a hard time thinking of good things, my advice to you is to narrow your focus. Think small. Sometimes you need to look for Pants Pocket Good Things. You know, like finding a 5 dollar bill in your jeans when you’re doing the laundry. A good thing that is small enough to fit in your pocket. You can always find a few of these if you squint carefully at your day. Then, you list two things you did well, even if one of them is “breathe in and out.” Lastly, you list one thing you are looking forward to. Got it? Here we go:
3 Things That Were Good:
- For some time now, I have been wishing for a dedicated office space. I work out of our home, which is lovely, and I am surrounded by my loving family and our irrepressible pets, which is also lovely. However, two years ago, my mother moved in with us so I could be her caregiver and our (my) office became her bedroom. I have longed for a separate space in which to write and work; a space with a door that closes and maybe even locks, because I love my family but I think they steal my brain cells when I’m not looking. I’m not sure, but I strongly suspect that this is what happens. Anyway, I now have a beautiful, tiny office pod which sits in a corner of our little backyard and I am so happy about it I could cry. In fact later, I might go in there and lock the door and do just that.
- We’ve been going through a drought here in California, but it rained this morning! A real, steady rain with soft, gray clouds and rivulets running down the window panes.
- I introduced a friend (Barbara Sirois Doyle) to bubble tea. This was enjoyable for two reasons. 1) sweet, milky bubble tea, and 2) I got to listen to a running commentary from a New Englander experiencing this weird Asian delicacy for the first time. I especially dug it when she got to the boba part. “Wow, this is just unyielding. It’s like if you took all the flavor out of gummy bears and then stuck them in a beverage. They’re just so chewy and off-putting!” I’m not sure what it says about me as a person, but I laughed so hard I may have inhaled a tapioca ball.
2 Things I Did Well:
- I remembered to care for myself. I took myself out for walks and exercise, I fed and watered myself decently, and made sure I got a decent amount of rest. You’d have to be a regular spectator of my life to appreciate that this is a small miracle, but just trust me.
- I wrote out a long text explaining to someone how and why they had hurt my feelings. And then I deleted that sucker because in the grand scheme of things, it just doesn’t matter. I know who I am. I did some yoga breaths and it was cool.
1 Thing I Am Looking Forward To:
Furnishing and naming my Tiny Office Pod! (I am taking suggestions, btw.)
Post your own Joyful Meditation in the comments!