On chilly mornings, Kelly and I will pack a breakfast picnic and take the short drive, or walk, if it’s the weekend and there are no morning appointments, down to Hermann Park. In the park, there is a bridge donated by Tiffany’s Company. We sit at a picnic table near the bridge, drink our coffee, decaf these days, and eat boiled eggs, a paleo pumpkin muffin, and blueberries and granola on yogurt. If we are industrious, we might make a few breakfast tacos to eat. And they stay warm if wrapped in foil as soon as they come off the stove.
We bring a tablecloth and nice plates and ceramic coffee cups and saucers. We want a touch of elegance, but also want to be in nature, with nature. We do not do this in the summer. In Houston, that means April to late September.
It just seems that in places like this, it’s easier to breathe slowly, to live unhurriedly. Being in nature, being calm, being. We can cultivate this consciousness of being quiet. I guess that’s what is meant by mindfulness, not focusing on anything, just taking in what is. Awareness of being, not doing, and not even reflecting, because that implies a memory of the past. So this is my meditation.
We live life like a reflection in a rippling lake. The colors and forms are almost real, but it’s a bit blurry and lacking distinctness. Meditation allows us to see with more clarity what is true. I want to live more often in this clarity, but not always. I remember a terse poem I wrote at least 33 years ago. It went like this, “Sometimes I like to leave my glasses off. The images are fuzzier, but the colors are still there.” It’s an impressionist view of the world. It has its own aesthetic, but it is not clear. It is not the fullest expression of reality.
Here we sit among the geese and ducks squawking in the brisk morning. And I’m glad I’m alive on this nippy morning, digesting a delicious meal, looking at the lake reflecting a cloudless sky in the early morning sunlight. It is not so much the feeling as a knowledge granted to me. This gladness to be alive, sitting here next to Kelly, right now, right here. The world seems vibrant, active, not choking on global warming, not ridden with COVID-19, not full of political strife. The ducks have no politics. The geese just live.
And sitting next to Kelly, both of us journaling, there is no tension, no old battles about turning off the lights or how to load the dishwasher. We are bathed in nature, soaked in sunlight, healed by sub-60 degree temperatures. These are the seeds of knowledge I want to take with me to plant deep in my consciousness. How can I carry this awareness with me, not to numb to the world’s pain, but to remember the worthwhileness of pressing through difficulty? I want to retain the possibility of wholeness and peace and relax into floating ease.
Michael Winters is a Psychologist in Houston focusing on marriage counseling and therapy. Michael received his PhD from the University of Memphis and has been practicing since 1991.