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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Habitat for human balance

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Excuse my wandering.
How can one be orderly with this?
It's like counting leaves in a garden.   ~ Rumi

The keenest moment is not when our minds dominate but when we lose our minds. ~ Anaïs Nin, Henry and June, p. 47


When I am overwhelmed with news of earthquakes and iPads, I look out the window at the trees, or I go for a walk and sit down on the log bench in the meadow, close my eyes, let the sun heat my face, and listen to birds that I try to recognize. Interesting that there is no less information being transmitted through the air from the habitats in that meadow than there is in the second-by-milisecond chatter habitats in Facebook and the Google news feed. It's just different information, and it's working as a whole. I might not want to count them all, but knowing that the variants of green are made up of leaves opening the size of a child's hands, that look almost identical, is comforting rather than confusing. And it doesn't matter if there are different kinds of trees, and leaves, of unlike shape and color. Or that there are microscopic happenings afoot and amuck, details as distant and unknown to me as the 1.3 billion people of China. When I look at a natural landscape, I feel harmony. I may not understand it with my mind, but I can feel it. Nature lives in balance. I can follow its lead when I need equanimity, by doing something like:

. . . when I hear about the latest iPad-ish technology that I don't understand, I can contemplate lily pads in the horticulture gardens at MSU where lovers recline near sunbathing frogs.

. . . when I read about another earthquake killing hundreds or thousands of living souls, I can lie down and pray under an open sky, and then say thanks for shelter, food, water and a sound body.

. . . when I hear that the food I am eating, that I thought was good for me, is bad, I can stand and listen to honeybees om around the apple tree.

. . . when I read the news about Ford's surprising car sales last quarter and try to conjure hope that it will help Michigan soon, I can sit with the knee-high rhubarb and white-flowered ever-bearing strawberries, and dream of the best bite of pie a la mode.
. . . when I go a little crazy hearing about tea parties, I can invite my conservative neighbor over to one out in the garden, crustless sandwiches and all.

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I bet you can keep the list going . . .
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- jjadf

71 comments:

Pauline said...

...when I despair over human failings, I can lie on my back in the meadow to watch clouds reshape themselves and remember that the changing sky is always a perfect sky.

Barry said...

When I read about the scandals involving cabinet ministers and their lobbying husbands taking place in Ottawa, I can take my dog for a run through the meadow at the top of the Scarborough Bluffs.

*jean* said...

When I hear about 46 mile oil spills that need to burned off before they contaminate the mangrove-less, man made shorelines, I can go to my backyard and watch the small, greenish pink grape leaves unfurl.

Ginnie said...

...when I follow the ecologic/financial devastation the volcanic ash has wreaked on the world, I can take a lung-filling walk around the citadel walls of my city, thankful for winds that blow fresh air.

BTW, I just asked Dennis what an iPad is! It is totally new to me.

Shari Sunday said...

I like your kind of tea parties, Ruth.

ellen abbott said...

I've stopped reading, watching, listening to the news...mankind's news anyway. What does it all matter, really, in the end? My days are filled with bird song and flowers and fields and the garden.

Oliag said...

...when overwhelmed with the heartaches of life I can go to the ocean, listen to the constant rhythmic crashing waves, watch the sand pipers run in and out with the waves, feel the fizzy foam of the waves while my feet sink in the sand...well maybe I won't have my feet in the water at this time of year:)

I am very good at ignoring the daily bad news but one can never escape the human condition completely...I like my rhubarb pie without the sweetness of strawberries...

Gwei Mui said...

When I hear of yet another fatal stabbing, I take a walk over into Vicky Park one of the biggest public parks in "central London". I walk though the grounds watch the stalks, swans and geese - whichever is in season and park om a bench and what the world go by.

Loring Wirbel said...

Pure sensation carries so much more timeless information than the endless chatter out there.

The Bug said...

Things I did yesterday:

When I can't manage to start the lawn mower I can try (unsuccessfully but hilariously) to take pictures of helicopter seed pods in flight.

When I'm waiting on the cable guy to FIX MY INTERNET PLEASE I can look for four leaf clovers in my yard.

Susan said...

I'm often overwhelmed by the happenings in the world for which I feel powerless to affect.

...when I hear about starving children in a far-off country, I can inhale the aroma of bread as I bag it for handing out to hungry children here in this country.

Thank you for giving us perspective, Ruthie.

California Girl said...

If I lived on the water, that's where I'd go. As I live in the mtns, it's easy to walk outside & stare at them. If it's a nasty day, weather-wise, I pick up a book and lose myself in it.

♥ Kathy said...

I bet I could come up with a lot of them too but I so enjoyed yours that I'm just going to look at the clouds and think about them :)

swallowtail said...

Aaah. Beautiful.

Now, if I become overwhelmed, I am coming right back here, and read your post, and all of the amazing comments.

All have contributed to my heart/mind/spirit lifting this morning.

And I am so grateful. Thank you.

Arti said...

Thanks for reminding me, as always, with your photos, poem, and prose, that 'balance' is the key to quality living nowadays. We cannot live without technology, and yet, we need to take hold of the bare essence of beauty in nature, and in what we call human. You're so blessed to live so close to the natural world. And I'm glad that you're sharing with us that common grace.

Jeanie said...

When everything seems so very large and threatening or hopeless -- and I feel so very small -- or when I wonder how to incorporate managing a chronic illness into the rest of what I hope is a very long life, I can pick up my marmelade Gypsy, hold him close, stroke his soft coarse fur (yes, it can be both!), peruse his spotted nose and listen to him purr. And I smile.

Deborah said...

You have written a beautifully contemplative post, Ruth. Very peaceful - and the frog is gorgeous.
When yesterday I began to feel penned in by too much company and enforced togetherness, I went for a long walk in the early evening, and was filled with happiness at the sight of a pink sky above the hilltops, the soft green of spring leaves, the scent of jasmine, and time alone.

CottageGirl said...

... I wonder about the fate of the educational system as I sit on the garden bench and watch the tens of tiny oak saplings from last fall's extraordinary acorn crop bend in the in the wind.

You make me think, Ruth!!!

Peter said...

When I read your blog, I'm happy you are there to make this kind of post! :-)

Marcie said...

When I think about the suffering of children throughout the world..I can sit among the ducks and geese and count their newborn babies.
Thank-you for this inspiring post..and this reminder that there is peace and equilibrium in the natural world.

dutchbaby said...

P.S. I love the expression on this frog's face.

dutchbaby said...

Oops, it looks like my original comment got lost in the ether. Here it is:

When I read about 5,000 barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico every day, I can lean into a bouquet of fresh spring flowers and drink in the fragrance of its corollas.

lovely you said...

Ruth,

"When despair for the world grows in me" I come here. Sure, I have other places, too, the faces of children and dogs, the arms of trees and Jason, libraries...but I want you to know that your heart, or at least the drop in the ocean of it I have come to know, is one place I continually find rest and renewal. As always and ever, thank you for being that, my antidote for despair.

Sandy said...

Well when I read your blog I feel good and peaceful again and when I see a photo like that bottom one of the toad or frog or whatever, It inspires me to start drawing again (when I find the time).

Lovely post and I've missed coming here lately. Just haven't been getting too far from my own blog lately. Take care.

gemma said...

Dearest Ruth
All the little lives and entire habitats snuffed out by greed for oil.

Charley said...

When the world seems crazy and confusing, I can look at the "natural habitat" aquarium in our living room containing two tree frogs, a newt and a scavenger fish and join them in the serenity of their world where the temperature is constant, the water is filtered and crickets are provided for sustenance.

Terresa said...

My husband lived in downtown Detroit for a few years. I have a hunch that Marchand & Meffre's photography has only skimmed the surface of Detroit's collapse.

And tea parties. My family is all over them (but not me).

I come from a long line of conservative folk. I sense politics is something that people cling to, much like other things {TV, golf, World wrestling maybe}, to somehow find answers, place blame. I don't like politics much.

deb said...

When I wake to new of a bomb scare in Times Square,
I can still chuckle and take pictures at the ducks in our pool. Not the murky pond like cover that we removed so they would not be confused.. the chlorine treated pool. I don't imagine it's the best place to get comfy and try to raise young.

Montag said...

I think your tea parties must be rather fabulous; sandwiches and tea, bright sun, long grass, rivers and frogs and the tremulo of spring!

What a refuge they must be in the times. It takes one's breath away, how fast the pace of disaster has become...
We have let everything become synchronized to an inhuman and fast clock.

Bella Rum said...

My son works in Manhattan. When I hear of thwarted mayhem, I sit on my deck and breathe deeply and say thank you.

Susan said...

When I start to despair of humanity's future as I walk past rows and rows of office cubicles, I can go outside and walk along the river which has seen it all developing, will watch it unfold and flows regardless.

Oh said...

"...honeybees om around the apple tree..." wonderful!

and the picture of Mr. Toad (right?) is darling. Sorry, little land creatures bring out the gooey language in me!

Love this piece. Thank God for the gorgeous bit of green and trees and flowers we have the freedom to move around on...and get in sync, as you beautifully describe.

When the phone rings, a message pops up on my screen, people are discussing a situation, there are messages in email and on Facebook and it's all so loud, I can take to the front porch with its rockers and brilliant geraniums and listen to the sounds of the street - the birds, the rattle of the squirrel running along Tree Highway, the wind in the Sourgum trees that we adore in spite of their "gumball" fruit, the laughter of the kids up the street as they scoot and skate, the peepers who begin their songs at twilight and all the other noises of the tech world, of business and bureaucrats falls away.

cathyswatercolors said...

Dear friend i need to join you in your garden. I am happily busyheping my son and his fiance with there recent move.Today is the shower / housewarming,under a big tent. My children have been worrying about rain,but I told them it will only make it a better memory. Your daughter's wedding had some rain... yes? I'm exhausted with hard work and happiness.

news... Why is S Palin's photo on the front of the freepress with Obama's???? ugh.

Oil spill consumes me with worry,guilt and deep sorrow.

Peace and blessings my friend,in our garden of life.

rauf said...

we can only try to comfort ourselves with spirituality Ruth, it has no other function.

Ruth said...

Pauline, everything is always moving, changing, we just can't see it. Clouds on some days are noticeable, like this morning they were racing across the sky here.

Ruth said...

Barry, yes. Lindsay is your balancing buddy.

Ruth said...

Jean, it's enough to break my spirit. We can't let it.

Ruth said...

Boots, we're both lucky that we have comforting environs to live in.

Maybe it was you being out of the U.S. that caused you to miss the iPad hype. And now it's so 5 minutes ago. ;-)

Ruth said...

Shari, I wish women had more time together over tea or coffee. When we lived in Istanbul, I met with women in my building a couple times a week for tea, knitting, crocheting and gossip.

Ruth said...

Ellen, I'm very nearly there. I still feel responsible, that I should vote, and that I should contribute, and all that, so I pay attention in fits and starts.

Ruth said...

Dear Oliag, the sea is a comfort I wish I had close by. I get Lake Michigan sometimes. Sandpipers are precious.

I know what you mean about the sweetness, but I don't like the feel of rhubarb's grit on my teeth that the strawberries eliminate. Oh I'm so excited about rhubarb.

Ruth said...

Oh dear, Gwei Mui, my first thought was, I hope the fatal stabbings aren't happening in parks!

Ruth said...

Loring, I'm learning that, at long last. Some things die hard. New habits come hard too.

Ruth said...

Dana, oh it's astonishing really, when the internet stops even for a few minutes.

I can't even get a bird in flight in the camera frame, let alone a helicopter seed.

Ruth said...

Susie, I long backwards for the days of the Pony Express.

I guess. But I mean seriously, why do we need all this information? When we can do so little to affect it.

Ruth said...

California Girl, me too, water is the most soothing. Cuddling indoors under an afghan on a rainy day is a close second. Water again. It heals. We've talked about putting a water feature somewhere around, for the soothing sound.

Ruth said...

♥ Kathy, get the rest you need, hope you'll be refreshed and come back when you're ready. :)

Ruth said...

Laura, that's a happy, very happy thought, you coming here when you're overwhelmed. It makes me want to keep doing this. (Sometimes I'm not sure, just sometimes, like everyone.)

Yes, the commenters bring bags and bags of goodies.

Ruth said...

Arti, it means so much to me, so very much, that living here in this place and sharing it with you is something you value.

Grace indeed.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, on top of everything, all the chaos of the world, you have a chronic illness. Thank god for Gypsy being a comfort.

Ruth said...

Deborah, I wonder if you're like me, that sometimes it takes until I'm almost beyond retrieval before I remember that I need to do a certain thing to replenish. That is either going out into Nature, or doing something creative - photography or writing, most often.

Just the word jasmine is gorgeous. The scent is out of this world. We had it in Pasadena.

Ruth said...

CottageGirl, oaks are precious, so slow growing and deliberate.

I also love watching the poplar leaves wave at me from the pond, and on a breezy quiet day, I can hear them rustle hundreds of feet away.

Ruth said...

Peter, you pass. :)

Ruth said...

Oh Marcie. Every mother wants to take care of her children, with a few exceptions. To have to live in such circumstances that you couldn't protect and preserve your children's health and wellbeing is suffering beyond what I can fathom.

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, that frog did not move. Otherwise I would not have managed to get so close and take his portrait. I wonder if he was sick. :|

Oh the oil and what it's going to do to the coast and the waters and wildlife and commerce and people's livelihoods just chills me to the marrow. Why do I not have much hope that it will do much to make us less dependent on it? Or to eventually drill more off shore rigs?

Ruth said...

Tracy lovely Tracy, I do not say this quickly or lightly: I feel just the same about you and could have written those words if I had your unique perspective in this Life of ours.

I still can't believe that for so long you knew me but I didn't know you. There is a sadness, and a joy too, in that.

Ruth said...

Auntie Sandy, if you find inspiration here, and peace, I could ask for nothing better.

Ruth said...

Gemma sweet, and how do they find comfort? They don't, I think.

Ruth said...

Hi and welcome, Charley, sometimes I think it would be nice to eat that simply. :-)

Ruth said...

Hello, beautiful Terresa. I am very hopeful about Detroit as I hear about groups who have plans to develop the brownfields into renewable, growing, sustainable and affordable cultivations for locals.

Politics is a dead end. There are so many nuances and misunderstandings and assumptions. Who needs that? We need real people doing real honest things for our communities. Period.

Ruth said...

Deb, I was frightened thinking about that, our daughter lives there.

Our ducks had their first bath this weekend! A little wading pool, I have to load some pictures. Two houses ago we had a pool, and we had a duck couple come to it every spring. Then a vying male too. We were fascinated.

Ruth said...

Montag, I detest the speed. I resist the speed. I rebel against the speed. It is not mine to keep, and I will not accept it. So I say to you, let them come and feast. Let me be used up. Let us give and share and barter and trade. We'll slow down the clock some way or another.

With tea and sammiches sometimes, with frogs and thems who don't think like me.

Ruth said...

Yes, Bella, for your son, and my daughter and her husband. And all the others.

I remembered last night before sleep that I used to list what I'm grateful for before nodding off. I don't think I was awake long after that.

babs said...

You always make me stop, think, and appreciate the world around me.

Ruth said...

Susan, yes, and we might as well flow along with it, at our own pace as much as possible.

Ruth said...

Oh, I miss that, the porch life. We grew up doing that in town, and we watched storms come and go, friends walk by, I loved it. We sit on our porch here at the farm, and we listen to birds and watch squirrels, but no one is walking by since we're in the country. I miss that.

Oh, peepers. Your littany of sounds is nice just to think about.

Ruth said...

My dear Cathy, I think there were only sprinkles today, at least here. I hope the shower was as warm and fun as our wedding. Yes, it rained gently, and under the tent it felt like a lodge - cozy and intimate.

I see that Ms. Palin was in town. I liked some of the things Mr. Obama said at the UofM commencement. I need to read the whole text. Not that I harbor much hope for politicians of any ilk.

I know, the oil spill makes me crazy. And on we go.

We can only keep going and bringing heaven to the air around us. As much as we can. Sometimes we need heaven from someone else.

Ruth said...

Oh rauf, it's wonderful to see you in your old friend's family room. Welcome, dear brother. Wish we could sit and talk about all manner of things, and be a comfort to each other.

Be well.

Ruth said...

Babs, now let's go together and not think a while, ok?

:-)

Shaista (Lupus in Flight) said...

I am despairing lately Ruth, tonight in fact my despair led me here for healing.
So there it is. When I despair from pain and fever fatigue, I go to Ruth :)

Ruth said...

Shaista sweet friend and sometimes harsh Universe, why does my friend have to suffer? Permit me grace and understanding, the privilege to be a comfort when I can.

Love.