Activities of Daily Living
In medical jargon, this is called The Activities of Daily Living, and that is what I am grateful for. I can sweep the floor, make my bed, go to the farmer's market on Sundays and carry bags of vegetables—such a blessing! I can clean and soak all the greens and put them away. I can shower without a stool to sit on, wash my own hair and wash Audrey (something I'm sure she's not grateful for). It came slowly, and without fanfare, this trust in my body's strength. One day, I practiced not holding on to anything and realized that I didn't need to lean on a walker or a cane to get around. I don't take it for granted, this ability to walk and carry on the normal activities of life. I am aware of the concept of impermanence, that all things pass, good or bad, and that some day, I may need the walker again. But for now, I am grateful.
Southern California has had the first good rain of the season, one that really drenched things, a cleansing of sorts from the months of heat and drought. Many of us thought it would never come, but the conditions were right and, as it is said, if you're not happy about something, just wait a moment for change. I went to my closet to pull out my warm winter things, and as I opened the bag, there were the turtleneck sweaters, flannel pajamas and warm fleece jackets from previous winters waiting to be worn again. I had almost forgotten about them. Now the task of folding the summer things begins—the sleeveless t-shirts and capris—putting them away until needed. In California, one never knows—even in the dead of winter when it is snowing in the east, it could be warm and sunny here and those light shirts could come in handy. California is confusing this way, but I am grateful for the rain and the cool air that has finally come.
Pulling out my bags of sweaters, silk underwear and warm socks that have been resting over the summer on a shelf in my closet, I notice the cane I used after my accident tucked way in the back and was reminded of this idea that we are always in flux. Every time I see it, hanging there, just slightly hidden, I'm a little shocked; it feels foreign, yet during those months after the accident, it was my constant companion. I once needed it and relied on it, and each time I dig into my closet and come upon it, I wonder if it is time to give it away. I was grateful for it once; this time, as before, I think, it stays.
This simple practice is exceedingly hard, staying focused on your breath, or simply on the emptiness of space, staying aware while at rest. It is so tempting to sleep and go unconscious. But, just as in life, the reward is in staying awake.