My birthday. Hmmm … The sun returned to the position it was in 66 years ago when a soul decided to drop into this body. That sounds amazing, doesn’t it? So why am I not amazed? Where’s the Yay! I’m alive! feeling?
Seriously, I’ve got very little to complain about. I’m healthy and whole. I have a lovely little place to live, mountain air to breathe, good whole food to eat. My friends are kind, caring, truth-and-purpose-seeking people. I live at the edge of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where people choose bicycles, independent film houses, and yoga studios. I can come across a horse tethered to a tree in a backyard, see chickens pecking and scrabbling for their supper, rabbits dashing across front yards, and the beginnings of squash, melons, and tomatoes sprouting amidst sunflowers and wild grasses in front yards. In summer, magnificent afternoon storms blow in on sudden fierce winds with drops in temperature that rain down large pebbles of hail and end in awe-inspiring double rainbows crowning the eastern sky.
It’s a place where local artists are invited to paint sunsets and flowers and peace signs on the utility boxes and design whimsical murals on the sides of buildings. People put out signs that say No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor in English, Spanish, and Arabic. Others hang banners quoting Thomas Jefferson: When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.
Maybe life isn’t a yay! just now. Maybe it’s a quieter absorbing and then giving back that which is good, kind, lovely.
The city hangs baskets of flowers in the alleys and in pedestrian spaces where kids and dogs and grownups gather to run through fountains, listen to music, and lick ice-cream cones. On clear, Colorado evenings and cool summer mornings, I stop to admire the pianos that stand outside the library, the Food Co-op, and in Old Town Square, each a work of art painted by local artists and free for all to use. I talk to the artists as they paint and get a free lesson on a piano from a young musician. I poke through books in free library boxes (also built and painted with care) that neighbors erect on their front lawns and other neighbors fill with free-to-take-free-to-give books.
There are free concerts and movies in the square all summer. There are open-gallery-walks and an endless offering of story-telling events, art and comedy shows, and good local theater. Last summer, duos and trios of performing musicians and singers tickled my heart as they were slowly carted through town by self-styled three-wheelers. Horses clop under my windows as they take lovers on romantic carriage rides through the old neighborhoods. One of the breweries hosts parties of eight to twelve people who sit together at an open-air table and peddle themselves from one micro-brewery to another on an eccentric vehicle that only moves as fast and as far as its consumers can peddle. In the pedestrian square, people show up in REI-sports wear, yoga getups, and cowboy boots with short-shorts. Baseball caps and cowboy hats jog along side by side. Young people glide by on skateboards, while the older crowd shows up on recumbent bikes. I see dogs ferried behind bicycles in baby carriers as often as babies. Jugglers, tightrope walkers, and hula-hoop dancers show off in the parks.
People are friendly. Dogs are friendly. Cats sidle up to me for a rub and a purr. Rabbits sit still, poised to dart away but don’t feel the need. It’s a friendly, creative, spirited place that feels like home to me.
So, I’m not complaining. In fact, writing this has me praising, complimenting, feeling grateful. Maybe life isn’t a yay! just now. Maybe it’s a quieter absorbing and then giving back that which is good, kind, lovely. And maybe, considering the state of the world in 2018, looking for yay! is even a bit absurd. Harvey, the little dog I dog-sit for, is currently hiding under the bed because it thundered earlier in the day and he’s still not trusting to come out. When I talk with my friends or myself about the craziness and sorrows of our world, when I feel overwhelmed by one negative news cycle after another, I hear myself say, Well, but what are you going to do? Hide under the bed? Harvey says, Yep!
Thankfully, under-the-bed doesn’t appeal to me. So, I’ll get up from this table, put on my walking shoes, and head out to see what I can see. And while I’m out there, I’ll continue to ask myself if I know who I am, who I’m becoming, how I want to live into yet another new year, and how I can gently continue to open to the life and the love that this soul dropped into this body to experience.