As I observed only yesterday morning to David over our morning coffee, my outdoor stillness project, although only a one-hour-a-week commitment and with only one outdoor sitting-still hour yet accomplished, has already changed my mental landscape in a wondrous way. Instead of waking to sleepy thoughts of bills that need paying, I find my sleep-to-waking transition is often now a dreamy slideshow of outdoor scenes close to home. (And the bills still get paid, without polluting my morning mind.) Still snug in bed and half asleep, in my mind I am already outdoors, taking up one position after another, moving with the speed of thought from “my” wild apple tree on Novotny Road to a wooded hillside high above the no-name creek to a sheltered nook in the treeline between sections of orchard, picturing every spot from various points of view, settling into being there—until the next moment, when I am in some other precious nearby neighborhood spot. Perhaps this is the key to my new year’s cheerfulness, my days beginning in this exciting but peaceful manner.
This morning, however, was different, as I woke from a nightmare: It was summer, and the vegetable garden was lush, the lindens and maples and black walnut tree providing welcome shade--and then I looked to the east and could not understand what I was seeing. The edge of the woods beyond the cherry orchard looked like the ragged edge of a cliff, with nothing behind it. I stared and stared, trying to get my mind to interpret what my eyes were reporting. Then I realized that the woods had been completely bulldozed away! It was unbelievable horror, the kind a war survivor would feel to see her city bombed to rubble.
Needless to say, there was no temptation to luxuriate this morning in that usually-delicious zone between sleeping and waking! Much better today to be fully awake, my little world not transformed but still its simple, modest, familiar, wonderful self.