I managed to hang on to the slower pace with which I started the day, yesterday. I found it a pleasant and worthwhile approach to the day, which finished well with a phone call from my traveling partner, safely returned home.

This morning I am ‘in no mood to be rushed’, but it’s not an unpleasant place to be; I’m simply taking the morning slowly. My coffee is hot, and tasty, the morning is quiet – it is still too early for birdsong, and traffic has not yet begun the harried pace that creates the background noise that is so familiar to modern life. For now, it is about as quiet as it gets, here. I sipped my coffee, relaxing on the love seat, away from screens, and monitors, and applications, and active digital information being shoved into my consciousness for some time. That, too, is lovely, quiet, calming…I embrace all of those qualities with gentle enthusiasm, not looking for relief from stress or worrisome emotions – I have none this morning. I’m just enjoying a chill morning, content over my coffee.

Enough.

Enough.

There’s often so much pressure to make more of things. I’m not sure where it comes from, I’m content to be content, myself, generally. Why would it need to be any fancier than that? I do like pretty language…sometimes it carries me too far, and I find myself looking for ‘more’, when all I actually need is ‘enough’. I find the example of books fitting; I love books, real books, bound books, and although I have a Kindle, I also still have quite a few books. I could have more – there are more to have – I did have more, once, and each relocation finds me sorting through the books and inevitably sending some along to someone else to read and to have, usually based on ‘does this book really represent some piece of who I have come to be?’. I like the books I have to be part of who I am. I’ve read every book I own. On the other hand, I sometimes find myself getting caught up in the excitement of discovering a first edition among my books…then I may find that I’m shopping for more books, fancy books, first edition books, rare books…more books!! I don’t need ‘more books’, though, and I know that I will only keep the ones that mean something to me…so…what the hell? If it remains fun, and doesn’t take over my experience obsessively, and doesn’t lead to financial ruin, why does it matter what I do with my time, or how many books I pile up in corners and on shelves? Well…it does matter, for me, because the obsessive quality of acquisition isn’t based in a mindful experience, lacks perspective, often results in having so much that none of it matters and there’s no time to appreciate the individual elements being collected; it becomes an experience that exceeds any sense of sufficiency to the point that over time I feel my good character and values being degraded. Over books? Over anything – I just used books as an example.

All the practices...

All the practices…

Sufficiency is peculiar. I have a small collection of very fine porcelain demi-tasse cups and saucers. I began collecting them when I lived in Europe. Many of the pieces I own are antiques. They were not expensive individual purchases, and the study of the manufacturers, the patterns, the history of porcelain, and the slow enthusiasm of shopping with great care over time for something precious (and affordable) creates a beautiful experience for me. It’s the slow process, the depth of explored knowledge, the appreciation of each individual cup and saucer, the worthiness and beauty of them – and the power of choice that went into ‘this versus that’; there’s only ever so much room to keep things. Of all the elements of my whole life experience over time, this one – my porcelain – is entirely representative of my own choices, unaffected by the will – or taste – of anyone else. It sprang to life as a thing for me during a time in my life when damned little seemed mine to choose, and life was frightening, chaotic, painful, secretive, and potentially not survivable at all. My little collection is not only ‘enough’, and built on the sufficiency, and luxury, of beauty, it represents the incredible strength of my will to go on, and to find something beautiful in a life filled with fear, grief, and trauma. I’ve always had trouble explaining why seeing them boxed up and put away for safety from life’s chaos and OPD has been so heartbreaking for me – they are more than just ‘breakables’, by far.

Whimsical porcelain figurine; Meissen on display at the Portland Art Museum.

Whimsical porcelain figurine; Meissen on display at the Portland Art Museum.

My life is taking on the shape of who I am. I’ve never seen me in this light before, unfolding over time as this particular being, with these particular qualities of character, living her life specifically as it suits her best, decorating with bound books on shelves, and antiques not only displayed but in every day use – and still, somehow, a life lacking in clutter or chaos…tidy…simple…lovely. Couldn’t I have made these choices in other environments, in shared experiences? It seems so… I didn’t find it a simple thing to do. The living metaphor when something precious is broken just destroys me, emotionally, for some small time, and seems far more common in shared living arrangements, than living alone. I find myself wondering, a bit puzzled, if one driver of moving into my own place was simply to reduce the potential for things being broken, carelessly, and finding myself content to accept that it could be adequate cause to move into my own place, from my perspective – then realizing that this small detail speaks volumes on who I am, and how far I have come to be the woman I most want to be, and how much farther there seems to go.

Beautiful things linger in memory and meaning long after they are gone from my physical experience.

Beautiful things linger in memory and meaning long after they are gone from my physical experience.

Is this all sounding very serious this morning? It’s not so much. Just thoughts, words… I am my own cartographer; perhaps I am simply updating the map, and enjoying the morning over a good cup of coffee?

Morning is here. The whoosh of commuter traffic makes itself heard, and the sky is light enough to see that the day is overcast, at least for now.  There is a squirrel sitting outside the patio door, looking in; he has uprooted the last remaining gladiolus bulb that I had potted when I moved…or perhaps something else, that he had planted there, himself, at some later point. I smile; it’s not a detail that distresses me, and I enjoy the antics of squirrels. I hear birdsong now, and in the distance a siren – someone else’s morning is not going very well at all.

The continued investment in contentment, in calm, in stillness, all add up over time. It’s necessary to keep practicing the practices that have that result – it’s not a permanent sort of thing that can be achieved and then put aside. There is a continuous, patient, investment in self required, there are verbs involved, being human there are opportunities to fail myself now and then  – and learn and grow from that, too. My results vary, regularly, and I sometimes find myself doubting my progress or success…then there is a morning like this one. Things fit. Things feel right. I feel content, relaxed, and self-assured – it’s not a report card, or a finish line, and it is not the achievement of some goal that can be checked off a to do list, or added to a spreadsheet. This is a continuous journey, its own ongoing thing, a process – a verb, a series of verbs, an experience happening now – always happening now. I smile over my coffee; life is worth slowing down for.