On Thursday afternoons, I take a class that always begins with a mindfulness exercise. Yesterday's was intended to help us remember good things on our lives.
We were first asked to think of a time when we felt a "healthy exhaustion." Check.
We were then supposed to think of a time when we felt loved and appreciated. A couple came to mind right away, but I was able to settle on one quickly. Check.
We then were supposed to think of a caring gesture or kind words that someone we cared about had told us. That took a little bit to narrow it to one, but okay.
We were then asked to remember a beautiful place (just one) and concentrate on the beauty we experience.
I couldn't do that. There are too many places.
I have stood on the shore of Cumberland Island, Georgia, watching the sun rise.
I have stood on the Salisbury plain on a December morning facing Stonehenge as sleet fell.*
I have watched the sheets of water cascading down Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.
I have driven through rural Oregon in October, where the bursts of color were the trees on fire.
I have driven through southern Spain as the late afternoon sunlight splashed off the whitewashed walls of the houses.
I have seen the hills of the Scottish lowlands with mists kissing the tops of the trees.
I have driven through the almost unbelievably green hills of New
Zealand in September, and marveled at the boiling streams and pools near
I have been down Big Sur in all sorts of weather: the glorious sunshine filled mornings of an early autumn day and the overcast and misty days of winter** when the fog hugs the trees and the sea turns from blue into a beautiful silver-gray.
I have felt the warm sand of St. Croix under my feet as I sat under
the palm trees doing nothing but looking at the brilliant blue water.***
I have been through the Alexander Valley when golden shafts of afternoon sunlight have turned the edges of the feathers on the wild turkeys feeding on the hillside shades of orange and bronze.
I have seen the Belgian countryside when the poppies are in bloom, reminding me of why the poppies were so well known in the first place.
I have stood before the Vietnam Memorial in Washington in the spring when the cherry trees flower, reflecting upon the names and looking at the memorials placed there by family, friends, and comrades-in-arms.
And all of that is outside of museums and great buildings, so many of which I have also seen.
I have been so many places, seen so much beauty, it is too much to remember, to limit. When I think of it, it fills my heart to almost bursting.
I have been very blessed.
*Stonehenge is great when there are no tourists. Usually that means when the weather is miserable. If you're up to it, though, that is also when the place is at its most atmospheric.
**Never during rain, though. I would not ever want to drive it during rain.
*** And drinking rum. The hotel I was staying was small, a bit down-at-the-heels place on the unfashionable side of the island. They left a full bottle (750 ml) of 151 Cruzan rum on your pillow when you arrived. Much better than mints, I thought. I met the most interesting people there...